Montreal

View of “John Heward and Jean-François Lauda,” 2018. All works Jean-François Lauda, Untitled, 2018. Photo: Maxime Boisvert.

John Heward and Jean-François Lauda

The Darling Foundry

View of “John Heward and Jean-François Lauda,” 2018. All works Jean-François Lauda, Untitled, 2018. Photo: Maxime Boisvert.

The only mark I can vividly recall from Jean-François Lauda’s exhibition of nine identically sized paintings is a glare of canary-yellow paint scraped over a moody pink-hued stain. Like a mechanical wing, it artificially lifts the elegiac tone of the room, interrupting the intensity of Lauda’s more understated works. Though the work containing this mark is not the strongest painting in this series of untitled works, it is the loudest. Its afterimage overwhelms the elusive beauty of the other eight, whose quiet reckoning with the void stirred me in ways that most face-to-face encounters with contemporary abstraction do not.

Lauda’s intelligence is liquid, material, sensual, and metaphysical, all at once. Indeed, it is the fugitive quality of his marks that allows for the ineffable experience of abstraction at its best. Although his work dialogues with a variety of mid-century and

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