New York

Louis Cane

Leo Castelli Gallery

Une peinture cultivée translates as: a cultivated painting—that is, a cultured painting, a painting which includes the culture of its own history and depends on the viewer’s culture, knowledge and perception for maximum appreciation. An exchange of cultural information via the art object. According to Louis Cane, in creating une peinture cultivée, the painter incorporates his own culturalization to develop a universal signification via painting.

Cane’s work reflects such art historical sources as Uccello, Piero della Francesca, Masaccio, Titian and others, not literally, but certainly in its geometric considerations, art-cultural considerations and the multiplicity of painterly-painter’s problems accomplished: “Game, Set, Match.”

On entering the gallery my first experience was an intense, magnetic, irresistible response to the paintings—what Clive Bell might have aptly termed proof-positive of that art having “significant form” thereby evoking an “esthetic emotion.” These paintings are visually molestable (to borrow a phrase from correspondent J.D.M.). Along with feeling intuitively connected to these paintings—perceiving and understanding what the painting emits—I accepted these paintings unequivocally, without qualification as to their raison d’etre.

Then I began to question how these paintings were made. At this point I realized they were not painted on the wall but were tactfully tacked to the wall. The intimate relationship between the paintings and the wall was more than a physical one. They seemed synthesized—as if the paintings were coming out of the wall.

Cane’s stretcherless paintings exist within two dimensions; they are both surface and support without the third dimension of physical depth of the stretcher. Cane points out that a painting is flat, and to be flat is to resolve the traditional stretcher-having-its-own-depth-dimensionality too. This problem has been and will continue to be seriously considered by all those contemporary painters worth their weight in angst. Such questioning of tradition is much like the adolescent experiencing “other ideas” in the outside world and reconsidering what he or she has “learned” at home. Tradition dictates one authoritative view; creativity and intelligence explore and consider all ramifications thereof—conventions as well as unexplored possibilities. Cane has created one respectable solution for achieving flatness in painting.

His canvases can be described in terms of constants and variables. The size, form, surface and quality are constant. The arrangements of the three basic colors vary the pictorial surface and gesture so that each painting expresses its individuality through visual differentiations and perceptual manipulations. All use the same format—a horizontal rectangle of canvas. A band is cut around the right edge and folded back, creating two squares separated by the “C” shape of the cut band. The “C” creates an inner-outer frame relationship between the two squares. The folded-over band permits tri-color push-pull visual distinctions and also functions as a second thickness. This is the only actual change in thickness (dimensionality) apart from the one layer of canvas on the wall.

The process is somewhat deceptive but no more so than in any non-simplistic work. Cane’s paintings are not easy paintings. The repetitive format might lead you to believe you’ve seen it all in one glance. Don’t be so easily fooled. Look again. Monsieur Louis Cane, merci.

Sharon Gold