Recognized as one of Canada’s foremost abstract painters, this retrospective includes works spanning five decades. Bolduc’s colourful abstractions extend the modernist language of Jack Bush, Robert Motherwell, and Jules Olitski. In his posthumous remarks about the artist’s friend and colleague, Jeffrey Spalding called David an "exotic and eccentric modernist."
David Bolduc was born in Toronto in 1945. He attended the Ontario College of Art for one year and later studied at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts School (1964-65) with Jean Goguen. His first exhibitions, several with groups, took place in Montreal galleries, including a solo show at the Elysee Theatre in 1966. He returned to Toronto in November 1966 where he worked in the Royal Ontario Museum’s conservation department. His solo exhibition at The Carmen Lamanna Gallery in 1967 featured groups of shaped canvases with contoured surfaces carrying simple geometric colour designs. He subsequently abandoned colour to work with minimal constructions of stretched white vinyl and then with simple structures made of rope, wood and mirrors.
In 1968, Canada's Art Council awarded him a grant which allowed him to leave his ROM job to travel over a period of eight months. The artist travelled through Europe, Turkey and Nepal, returning home via Uzbekistan and Moscow. In the ensuing 33 years, he seldom remained home for more than a year at a stretch.
David Bolduc’s work continues to affirm the value of painting as a vital and challenging medium. Bolduc’s paintings exhibit surprising colour and a quirky playfulness. Rich in subtle art historical references, the seeming spontaneity of his work belies their thoughtful preparation.
Bolduc’s paintings share a characteristic format—layered expanses of colour, punctuated by a usually, centralized image. These severely frontal images are painted in brilliant contrasting hues; often, juxtaposing lines of vibrant pigment are squeezed directly from the tube. Bolduc’s idiosyncratic use of colour sustains the emotive impact of his work. While the general mood of the work is established by the colours of the field, the intensity of the painting is heightened by the forms and hues of the central figures. The relationship of figure to ground creates a duality and dynamic equilibrium within the painting itself. The mixed shades and tones of the colour field contrasts with the pure pigment of the figure.
The figure dominates and seems to hover above an active field of colour. Thus, both colour and form are essential to sensation and meaning in Bolduc’s paintings. The figures iconic position in the center of the painting is rich with the possibility for metaphor. Interpretation, however, remains elusive and open to subjective readings.
Bolduc himself saw art as a long apprenticeship. Seeing art as an extended and continuous process, he often painted over old canvases, recycling past surfaces into new contexts. This seeming irreverence to his past paintings underscored the artist’s belief that painting is first and foremost a reflection of the present; where the meaning of the work is determined by the realities of the moment.