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Harold Klunder: Plundering figures

Plundering figures

Detail, Infinity on Trial

Montreal painter Harold Klunder pillages pigment to find the face

A colour-bursting, impasto-encrusted diamond in the rough of bourgeois Westmount awaits anyone with a bus pass and a desire to discover it. Quickly, before it ends this weekend, head westward to the Visual Arts Centre on Victoria Avenue to take in the messy loveliness of Montreal painter Harold Klunder’s latest works.

Klunder has a style uniquely foraged over years and years of intense pigment manipulation. To say he layers it on thick gives the wrong impression – it’s as if the strata of pigment of all the colours of the earth were there to start with, and that he has simply carved out the unnecessary layers in some places. The scratchy texture of his brushstroke gives the impression of a rake’s marks in topsoil. Where these recent works are concerned, Klunder is on a dig for his likeness.

Reminiscent of the recurring maniacal smile in de Kooning’s Woman series of the 1950s, it is the eye that resurfaces in every one of Klunder’s recent works. Over half the paintings contain the word "self-portrait" in their titles, which, to a novice, might be mighty confusing – how could anyone see a face in this muddied exuberance? But they are there, faces hovering beneath the layers, poking out from around the corner when you least expect them.

The palette becomes the main signifier for the portraitist’s mood, and colours are Klunder’s language – just soak up the monumental six-piece Infinity on Trial if you want to recharge your chromatic battery. The work transitions from darkness to light, from left to right, hinting at themes of death and birth, mixing taupes with yellows, blacks, sky blues and purples – the thought did cross my mind that the "infinity" Klunder was faced with was that of his paint layers. But indeed, with this latest series situating him more squarely on the figurative side of the fence than usual, Klunder is plundering something more personally profound.

Harold Klunder: Amorphous Amoebae
At the Visual Arts Centre (350 Victoria), to May 19

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  6 comments

  • by Tyler Cole - May 17, 2007, 3:34 pm

    The art depicted by Harold Klunder, is deep indeed. Being a resident of Montreal, I enjoy the lifestyle that accompanies the setting. Jazzy and robust; just like Klunder’s art. The mix of colours in the face, probably signify not only surface emotions, but memories and images portraying a positive energy. This particular piece is unique, as is every piece of art… I would like to see more of Klunder’s work, and knowing the closeness to the source; anybody with a love for the arts simply must go today! Why not? You’ve got nothing to lose, and with our multi-cultural extravaganza of a city, I hope to see more revealing art from this man in the near future. Keep it up!

  • by Alison Naimar - May 22, 2007, 3:04 pm

    These images are a wonder for the eyes. Such vibrant vivid colours, this abstract constructivist style is reminiscent of Picasso and Klimt.

  • by David St Pierre - May 24, 2007, 11:13 pm

    Self-portraits galore! Texturally and chromatically captivating – all those cool blue hues juxtaposed by warm and rich earth tones as local painter, Harold Klunder endeavours to capture his many faces on a multitude of canvases! Only wish that I had spied this article last week ’cause the teaser – the self-portrait pictured here – is by turns enchanting and beguiling. Trust me, I won’t miss Klunder’s next vernissage!

  • by Martin Dansky - May 25, 2007, 9:46 pm

    Didn’t have a chance to see it but from the advertisement around town, it tells remind you of Koonings Woman series and by zxiom the influence that artist got from Picasso and his pre-cubist paintings, The intense pigment application is his alright as is his scratchy texture and muddied layering of faces. I can think of a barrage of memories all condensed and wanting to break loose from a singular form. I would like to see this evolve into other subject matter and even see the packed subject matter open up a little.

  • by Cheryl Ramnanan - May 29, 2007, 12:37 am

    I know nothing about art. When I see Mr. Klunder’s work it reminds me of Picasso but with more variation of colour and what may seem more detail. It is a shame , I would have liked to have had the chance to see his work in person, especially that he is from Montreal. It would be nice if every year there would be an exhibition of exclusively Montreal artists such as Mr. Klunder which would also feature newcomers as well.

  • by Stephanie Ein - June 5, 2007, 11:40 pm

    With “Saidye” dead and gone, now is an ideal time to check out The Visual Arts Centre, a funky school/gallery that has nurtured the local art scene for the past half-century.

    It’s a great little neighbourhood spot– inviting and unpretentious– the very opposite of those elitist, intimidating “Galleries” we’ve come to dread. While Klunder’s works were indeed dazzling (and certainly worth a trip in the future), there are always funky and inspiring works to be found here.

    Give it a try, Westmountophobes!

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