Terence La Noue:
Works on Canvas and Paper

Butters Gallery, Portland
June 3 - 26

Terence La Noue
Terrence La Noue, Samoset’s Pool No.6 (1993-9)
mixed media on paper

In a beautifully illustrated 1992 monograph about the eastcoast painter Terence La Noue, critic Dore Ashton writes, "He works at the point of juncture where instinct and intelligence meet, prolonging a venerable modern [abstract painter's] tradition... No matter how far-flung his associations are, La Noue is faithful to his cultural and aesthetic missions..." Ashton sees La Noue as a legitimate heir of the New York School, and one oblivious to the dismissive, death-of-painting pronouncements of postmodernism.

To La Noue, there is perhaps not world enough and time to compile his dense, multi-layered and multi-spatial intarsias of rich, opaque colour, texture and relief: the "allness at onceness" of a cosmic and numenistic world. La Noue's paintings often begin as kind of aerial landscapes with indications of referential ground colour, but even these are more metaphorical than literal. Like Jackson Pollock in his use of partially disclosed imagery, he impells the viewer to excavate the surfaces of his work.

La Noue is fascinated with travel and a geophysical perspective; with history, music, biology, zoology -- and, particularly, with non-Eurocentric tribal cultures. Like other artists and aestheticians, he is particularly absorbed with the transcendent power of ritual objects: masks, Tantric art, carved Mayan glyphs, and with the syncretic unity of totemic shapes and symbols that constantly appear both in nature and in human culture.

On something more than casual inspection, one finds La Noue's work "packed with detail, yet seemingly infinitely extensive." His is indeed such an expanded world view that the Sisyphean task of getting it all down must be daunting. Only painterly abstraction can contain such ambition, and as he has learned through his preoccupation with the "primitive," achieving the potency of the mélange of the "ugly" and the "beautiful" is vitally paramount.

© Ted Lindberg