05 Sep 2017

Rita Letendre: Fire & Light

Art Gallery of Ontario

Reviewed by Andy Gambrell

For Canada's 150th anniversary, the Art Gallery of Ontario features "Fire and Light," a retrospective of the abstract paintings of octogenarian master Rita Letendre.

Letendre has a tendency towards painting diagonal lines that bar entry into her pictures like No Smoking signs. However, when the angled marks lean closer to horizontal or vertical stability, the pictures vibrate with powerful optical presence. Though superficially similar to color-field paintings by her American counterparts, Letendre's work is more an extension of Rothko's tragedy, ecstasy, and doom than a post-painterly refutation of such gravitas.

Works from the 1970s and '80s combine hard-edge painting with atmospheric sprays. Clouds of paint simultaneously project out of the canvas and recede into the picture while stripes rest matter-of-factly on the surface, a curious combination of Hans Hofmann's push/pull with Jules Olitski's atmospheric grandeur.

Letendre both follows the light and carries the torch.

Exhibition Rita Letendre: Fire & Light link
Start date 29 Jun 2017
End date 17 Sep 2017
Presenter Art Gallery of Ontario link
Venue 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON, CAN map
Image Rita Letendre, Klingit, 1973, acrylic on canvas, 152.4 x 101.6 cm, collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario

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