Loch Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of painted collage artworks by Louis de Niverville that we will be displaying in the front room of the gallery. In the second room of the gallery we will be featuring a group exhibition of new and recent paintings.
What allows a painting to be most available to sustained attention is not only its physical proximity to the viewer but also the artist’s closeness to the impulse of its making. In Louis de Niverville’s painted collage that kind of closeness always involved time as a condition of the making, and on occasion time became a theme in itself.
In 1939, when de Niverville was six years old, he was “stashed away” in the hospital for “about four and half years.” Because spinal tuberculosis was thought to be easily communicable, he was permitted to be visited only occasionally by his parents. To survive emotionally and psychologically, he began to “cut out comic strip characters (Superman, Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician, Blondie)”. He later wrote, “I kept them all in a little envelope and when I wanted one of them I would bring it out and make it talk and give it a life.”
In the mid 1960’s during a crisis in in his technical and creative process, he returned to his childhood technique of cutting out paper. Now he painted the sheets first, often vigorously or using arcane techniques. A pair of scissors was also a way of making line, a kind of drawing. But what allowed it all to happen was the cut out. By way of collage, de Niverville effectively reinvented not only his celebrated painting and drawing practices but he also returned to his earliest and most urgent form of making. A small sampling of this painted collage practice can be seen in Louis de Niverville, The Art of Collage which includes work made over forty years.
The earliest work in the exhibition, Time Machine is a masterpiece of de Niverville’s mid-career. A central figure seems to be entirely wrapped in strangely elegant garments – a beautiful, brown trench coat and a pinkish hood. These garments might be made of paper and perhaps, at the same time, they are not. Brass clock pieces like clouds fall from the blue sky. Some of these formations look more like living entities than machine parts or cloud vapours, and they evoke ghostly, nineteenth century cyanotype photos. Something to do with memory and its traces.
When de Niverville was in the hospital he often watched the scene visible across the road. He would “hang onto the clouds and marvel at their formations […]. In fact I saw my father quite often in the clouds […]. It was like being at the movies…. like a never ending spectacle.” With Time Machine De Niverville has produced an arresting image of time. It is easily identifiable as the time experienced when one is ill or in hospital, when clock time has been detonated. It is also the time that exists for everyone in the mind, when the eyes are turned inward, torn away from time keeping devices. Fantastic, and yet a layered, associative image of reality.
~ E.C. Woodley
All quotations are from Louis de Niverville’s “Pentimenti” in the catalogue for Louis de Niverville Retrospective curated by Joan Murray at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery and travelling to thirteen other public venues between the spring of 1978 and the winter of 1980.
As a member of My Loch Gallery you can set up a collector profile, save artworks and be notified of new work by your favourite atists, access to our newsletter, and more.