- 2009 Solo Exhibition at Galerie d'Arts Contemporains -

- " L'Univers intime de Roy Lerner " -

This exhibition opened in Montreal at Galerie d'Arts Contemporains on December 3rd, 2009, and stayed open to the public until December 24th.

Front of Invitation:

Back of Invitation:

Gallery Address:
Galerie d'Arts Contemporains
2140 Crescent Street
Montreal, Quebec, H3G 2B8

The gallery also has an auxiliary building across the street that is open by
appointment only for private viewing.

Please enjoy this recent article written by John K. Grande for the Canadian arts magazine Vies des Arts for this exhibition.
Please note that this is a draft version, and not the version that is slated to be printed in the magazine.
The printed edition will be available shortly:


Roy Lerner: A Painter’s Ecology

Roy Lerner’s paintings are so close to life, they make the categories of art
vanish like footsteps in the snow after a storm. We are left with a
landscape of experience where chaos and order hang in the balance. Gestures
shear off into space, and leave physical traces as textural fragments, or
they simply erode into brilliant hues, to the point we are not looking, more
like envisioning Lerner’s art. And that art is a painter’s art. Instead of a
composition, we have colour, surfaces, textures every bit as varied and
complex as the natural world. These are not paintings that explore a surface
plane. Instead they are visual experiences, a series of iconic topographies
of the moment frozen in time. While these paintings are filmic, and sequence
a world of continuity in experience, they are no longer museological fetish
objects, nor are they deifications of abstraction as the ultimate subject.
They’re more natural, less self-conscious than that! Lerner’s paintings hang
on that tendentious tree of abstraction as splays of colour, striations of
texture, and the bombarded and blasted visual effects they achieve. In this
sense Lerner’s paintings are neither abstract nor are they figurative, but
edifications of an age of data overload, an informational age that has
exploded the cortex, expanded the contexts of expression - the sublime
moment, these eulogies are joyous evocations of myriad sensations.
For Lerner, the act of painting is a physical, instinctive, emotional
excursion. Out of that sea of joy, these paintings surface like floats that
bob and sway on the surfaces of their fluidity…. A formative influence on
Lerner was his uncle Glen Frankfurter, a friend of Harold Towne, and
supporter of the Painters Eleven who brought him to New York City to see the
art, and to Ontario countryside near Bancroft, Ontario to see the nature. As
Lerner says, “There was something about observing and drawing the wonders of
northern Ontario; rock formations, lakes, trees, the northern lights, and
talking around the dinner table in the evening that made all the difference.
After studying nature and the old masters, I take away what I have learned
and create my own invention. It’s not about copying God’s creations, it’s
what man brings to the table. An artist is measured by his contribution to
art history. Taking art further.”

As art, Roy Lerner’s challenge is to assault us with life, to take on our
culture, to ad a higher pitch to his live manifesto of painterliness, to
increase the vibrancy, to counter the din and hum of data traffic with
something human. Lerner does so to contribute to the material culture we are
all part of. Instead of evading the material world in favour of the digital,
he immerses us visually in that world he is a part of.

For Lerner, the direct and painterly reflects an experience in the physical
universe we all inhabit. There is no irony, or distancing, or parabolic
curve to his universe. And art cannot ultimately be expressed in words.
Words are mere symbols or approximations of experience, aren’t they? Lerner
once painted alongside Joseph Drappell (co-founder with Anna MacLachlan of
the Museum of New Painting), at Sir Anthony Caro’s Triangle Workshop in Pine
Plains, New York (1984). Lerner still agrees with Joseph Drappell’s comment
that, “Art reproductions are like fool's gold; the substance will often be
lost in photographic translations.” for the magic of the here and now moment
of creation persists....

The result is an unusual array of vividly colourful paintings that fit no
category. Indeed Lerner has created seven categories of his own for his
paintings - Physical, Painterly, Gestural, Stains of Light, Screens, Shields
& Columns, Twilight. There are ripple, ridge patterns, hatch, and endless
variations on the surfaces of these enigmatic ever-changing styles. No one
can pin this artist down, that’s for sure! From Day-Glo, to vivid yellows,
mauves and assorted colours that engage in a direct conversation with each
of us, this is a full on assault on the viewer’s eyes as direct as the
Lascaux cave paintings are. And we are like magpies. We eat up each
sensation, each mercurial motion, brush gesture, tapered end, and ridging.
These are not calm nor are they introspective paintings. Instead they are
bold, bombastic, extroverted and charged with energy. The ultimate effect is
to generate in us a sense that painting, the sacred fetish objects of
Western contemporary civilization, actually have revived and have a new
life. Lerner’s paintings are charging, like enigmatic horses in a full foray
still further into the tactile, textural and abstract conversation. Yet to
look at these works is to immerse oneself in what could only be called
landscapes of abstraction every bit as diverse and charged with that
versatile variation as the traditional painted landscape or even the living
ecology we see in nature any day of the week. The difference here is that
the tableau itself is the subject and object of the exercise. One questions
the shifts, and movements of colour towards colour, and the chromatic scales
that shock us out of our lethargy. What is the purpose of this art? Does art
have a purpose? Maybe it’s more like an edgy tapestry, a merging, mixing
fusion of layers of modality, of parameters in parameters that carry some
sincere ancient and primal message. Roy Lerner’s paintings are performances
about the actions inherent to painting. Like latter-day entomologists we can
envision the vision, sense the sensations. Seeing these paintings we believe
in the affirmation that Lerner’s art believes.
To achieve these effects Lerner uses a series of different sized “painting
knives” in the same way palette knives are used. They range in size from one
inch wide to three feet wide. In this way the modulations, and ripples, the
waves, and relief build-ups are achieved. A gel or foam-like material is
applied using foam brushes to apply the paint, and other times Pollock-like,
thinned paint is poured out of cans onto a given painting to achieve stain
and mark effects. Acrylic paint is added to, or thinned and the effects
range from harsh gritty textures, to smooth flowing transitions. Likewise
the actual shapes, the rounding off of edges, curving of the canvas
extremities causes us to read them less as “modernist abstraction” than as
emblems of a pure hybridity. The effect is to heighten the sense this is a
hidden world, somewhat magical, something mysterious, something always
present that emerges through the medium of the artist’s persona. This is an
energy that is not ultimately containable or contained. As with jazz music
the art is an embodiment of Roy Lerner’s eclectic, ecstatic experience,
persona… This aura, and the hue of Lerner is all about modulation. And the
process of modulating colour, shape, and texture into compelling eye candy,
for Lerner becomes a kind of ecology of the soul. As he says, “All the
decisions concerning those elements reflect my personality and soul.”

- John K. Grande
Montreal, 2009

Click on each thumbnail below to view photos of the paintings in the exhibition in a new window. These paintings are all new to the gallery, and they also have many other paintings by the artist on hand, including many of the paintings from the 2008 exhibition. More photos will be posted here upon commencement of the exhibition, when we receive a full list of exhibited works.


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