KLONARIDIS firstname.lastname@example.org_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-12-04 published
Recollections of an artist whose absence is palpable
By OLIVER Girling, Special to The Globe and Mail Thursday, December 4, 2003 - Page R11
Lynn DONOGHUE loved to paint pictures, and her favourite subject was the human form.
A spiritual child of the influential David Mirvish Gallery of the seventies, her work was championed by the gallery's owner as well as its director, Alkis KLONARIDIS, when he later opened on his own. This was noteworthy because the Mirvish Gallery's domain had been modernist, abstract painting and sculpture, to the exclusion of almost everything else.
But Lynn's paintings were a kind of hybrid, marrying the flatness and luminous colour of abstract painting to whimsical representations of the figure and face. For painting in Toronto, this was an important step, a bridge between card-carrying abstractionists like Ric Evans and Jan Poldaas and unabashed figurative artists then just starting, like the ChromaZone and Republic collectives and Joanne Tod. Still, historicism doesn't explain or do justice to the brand new species she invented and practised with lifelong consistency.
The subjects of her pictures seem sort of animated, the result of asymmetries that could only be achieved with a live sitter. Not for her the "95-per-cent Kodak, 5-per-cent art" method (Godard's ironic deflation of cinema's pretensions); unlike other figurative painting contemporaries, her use of photographs as aids was minimal.
The result was people in their gawky particularity who look like they're in the middle of living, rather than idealized, Platonic masks. (Look at her portrait of the company Dancemakers when you're in the lobby of the Premiere Dance Theatre in Toronto).
Lucian FREUD needed four sittings from the Queen for his 6-by-10-inch portrait; Lynn needed at least 20 for her 5-by-6-foot works. I know, because I sat for her twice. The first time, in New York in the eighties, she gave me turquoise pants and punked-out hair in the buttoned-down nineties, I'm more Jimmy Olson, cub reporter. Both were exaggerations; she relished using clothing as a sensual and imagist extension of personality.
The experience was energizing and relaxing. Talking non-stop as she painted, and constantly requiring a response, there was no danger of my going slack-jawed (this may be another part of the animation you see in her paintings).
Erudite about art history, she talked about artists and shows, "the biz," she called it; gossiped big-time; interspersed advice recipes; homilies. I felt honoured to be invited into such an intimate situation, to be present at the creation of a work. The final portraits feel to me like the residue of our conversations, souvenirs of 20 or so encounters at two junctures in our lives.
A prolific artist (http: //www.lynndonoghue.com), there is still new work to look forward to. Rumours also exist of a body of watercolour, male nudes that she was working on which, if true, would bring her back to her origins, when she painted lumpen, youthful abstract painters in their full-bodied glory.
In the art community, we're mourning a much-loved friend and colleague. I don't anticipate meeting her ghost at Dundas and Roncesvalles, our common Toronto neighbourhood; on the contrary, it's her absence that's palpable -- her voice especially. It will be felt by her Friends in various communities, at the Gato Nero on College Street where she had morning coffee for 20 years, at a particular pub on Bloor Street, at the high-Anglican church where she prayed.
Absence has always been one of the clearest motifs in Lynn DONOGHUE's work. When abstraction and representation meet, colours, forms and lines that converge provisionally as a face remember a person not present.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene, 477 Manning Ave., Toronto.
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