The early 1990's Gallery

note: "The Early Nineties Gallery" text has been separated onto it's own exclusive page in order to assist you with download times. Please also read Gerard's comprehensive texts on this period, discussing the works in this Gallery by visiting the "Early Nineties Gallery Texts" (just click here or on the coloured text just below).

... click on any image for an enlargement ...

The early works of the 1990's are informed by these works from the 1980's
The Living Meridian #1  - 1988 Nature is Man - Man is Style 1987 Figures with Red Blue Crutch 1987
Mag ik Bestellen (May I order) 1987 Ontology of Red Blue Crutch 1988 The Modular Ambulant 1988
I asked myself, is it possible to apply the strict aesthetic theories of Mondrian to that of the human body and its endoskeleton & exoskeleton structures? I realized, full well, that Mondrian was vehement about leaving natural forms as a source for inspiration in favour of things made by personkind. The challenge intrigued me as much as the dualism inside Mondrian's own theory and his being a Theosophist.

could neo-plasticist ideals be applied to the architecture of the human body

Labyrinth Architecture and Body Mazes
Detail of Study for Labyrinth Architecture or Body Maze 1990
Study for Labyrinth Architecture or Body Maze 1990
Detail of Study for Labyrinth Architecture or Body Maze 1990
Labyrinth Architecture or Body Maze 1990   Detail from Labyrinth Architecture or Body Maze 1990
I discovered that like Daedalus' Labyrinth, the body presents us with a whole different series of complex mazes from which to untangle Theseus' ball of golden thread to find the portal of light, which spells not only the change of an epoch but a radical lesson in morality through physiology.
The sadness of this mythical sojourn is that it created a huge dialectical paradox for me, leading me down a uni-cursal maze or pathway to the chamber of the beast itself and the monster of depression.

Why? Finding the door of this labyrinth, like Theseus, inevitably leads us back to both of Pasipahe's progeny. It spells our heroic return to Ariadne, love, the mystical dance of the released captives at the doors of freedom and thus the liberation of the youth of a nation in Athens. Ironically, it also spells out the death of and destruction of Pasipahe's other child the Minotaur, the imprisoning the artist Daedalus himself, and death of a son in Icarus...

to read the remainder of Gerard's provocative thoughts on this specific work - please click here

the startling realization that we are lost within a labyrinth can conjure up strong emotions

Figure with Spirals
Figure with Spirals 1990 Detail from Figure with Spirals 1990
The body presents as dynamic a structure as any modern building! What makes it more interesting is its versatility, in that it has flexibility as a living organic organism. As an artist, I was not only being inspired by the beauty of this incredible superstructure of physiology - the human body, but I was looking at this structure broken. In and of itself, human anatomy provides artists with enough problems but what happens when parts of that same puzzle are bent out of shape or even missing? To borrow from the myth above: what happens when pieces of your unravelled ball of thread are missing or the ball won't even reach all the way?

at what point in the maze do we surrender to the fact we can't find our way out

Fear of Flying
Fear of Flying 1990
Detail from Fear of Flying 1990
At first I thought maybe Le Corbusier was right, in his criticism that "The failure of De Stijl is in its absence of curves." The more broken the figure, the more complex the problem. Were Mondrian's rectilinear abstract equations able to encompass the figure and frighteningly, what of colour field theory when considering the secondary and tertiary colours?

the human figure whether broken or whole provides a cornucopia of inspiration and challenge

... click on any image for an enlargement ...
Industrial Body
Industrial Body 1990 Detail from Industrial Body 1990
Could structure give the broken meaning. The body starts to become like broken porcelain doll and as the artist I begin to feel that all I've been given is the glue to attempt and stick it back together again.

groping to understand our body, broken or otherwise

Two Legs
Two Leg 1990 Detail from Two Leg 1990
The broken form would push me back to a rigid and structural formula and I started to become unhappy with the conclusions. The structure started to feel like an apparatus, a formula. I have never been happy with the formulaic and again I started to feel as though I were in a rigid metal construction. After wearing a leg brace for so many years of my life, I did not now want to take my art to that same place - but now instead of my leg it would be a head brace. I saw merit in the sojourn but I started to become afraid of the destination.

the figure remains frail and the more I begin to understand it even more fragile

Mother Modular
A cloud of melancholy set over me as I came to see that my conclusions were leading me to only the decorative. Art as artifice! I was not unhappy with the work but I felt a noose tightening around my neck and with every theoretical wiggle, tightening just that little bit more, sucking the life out of me by degrees.
struggling to make sense of every direction

The Body Politic
The Body Politic 1990-91 Detail from The Body Politic 1990-91
Speaking on this work: as humans, we consider the highest form of our humanity to be communication. It's why we make art, write, dance and sing. Making love could be considered the highest level in the hierarchy of communication and is why so much of our art surrounds itself with the topic. I'm not speaking of just sex here - I believe there's a difference! The same criteria of love are also applicable to the broken or the disabled but I think it may even go one step further. To the broken it signifies acceptance - you have touched my body, not as a doctor or a nurse might, but as a lover - this is all of me, as incomplete as that may be. This painting is anything but lascivious, concupiscent or salacious, to the contrary it might even by stayed and clinical and certainly not pornography. In it I am trying to say that as a broken person when touched by my lover, I know I am whole before them - maybe not as a body but as a soul. The staff or walking stick lays in the foreground and it is difficult to ascertain which of the figures is broken! G.P.

trying to accept this broken vessel

... click on any image for an enlargement ...

Up or Down it's All Hard to Me?
Click here to open a separate window for this work.
I originally painted this painting as though the male model was posed standing on his head!
The resulting contradiction which occurred when trying to hang or install this static painting was as interesting a contradiction, as it was problematic to some. I literally sawed the work in half to make it into a diptych, but this also was no remedy. It is thus from these humorous events that this work derives its title.
Subsequently, we have created a separate page for this work: with several varied perspective images and some small animation's. If you are at all uncomfortable with the male human body or its appendices please do not click on the above image. On the other hand if you want to have a small laugh please click away and have fun - or is that if you want have a large laugh please dick away... G.P.

Just then you see a light and you run headlong towards it, only to find that instead of being free of the maze, you've in fact run straight into the Minotaur's lair. Is it failure or just a bump in the road? Will I be consumed? I start to become terribly confused! Then I admit my failure. Not unlike any illness the road to recovery comes first by admitting that you're sick, as for example with depression, alcoholism or drug abuse. No one likes to admit failure because our society only champions success. In the end though clawing around in the dark is also no solution. It's better to admit defeat today and live to fight another battle tomorrow.

then the darkness sets in ... and just as you think it is the darkest hour ... it gets darker

Cathedra 1 (Arms) & Cathedra 2 (Legs)
Cathedra 1 (arms) 1992-93 Installation Cathedra 1 (arms) at the McIntosh Gallery, London, Canada 1994 Cathedra 2 (legs) 1992-93 Installation Cathedra 2 (legs) at the McIntosh Gallery, London, Canada 1994
Then suddenly there's another light but way off in the distance almost entirely out of sight. A solution to the broken and synthesizing it with my works from the eighties would come from my past works of the early seventies. During the seventies I had come to see the deformed, the broken body as an abstract: as for example, if I contorted myself I was like a surrealist painting. By further fragmenting the figure and treating it almost entirely as a pure abstract form it all started to make sense.

probing in the dark you suddenly grab hold of yet another thread

Cathedra 1 & 2 (in the artist studio)
Cathedra 1 (arms) in the artists studio - Canada Cathedra 2 (legs) in the artists studio - Canada Cathedra 2 (legs) in the artists studio - Canada
I could reconsider the body and Mondrian theories again but now by looking through the eyes of Barnett Newman.
- Cathedra 1 and 2 can be assembled: a) individually, b) together with the arms over the legs, reflecting the proper portion of the body, c) completely fragmented as a cacophony of images in the pure abstract

the irony of ancient mazes is that they were not all multicursal and often just a simple spiral
being lost in the maze is as much a state of mind as it is being physically lost in a structure

Cathedra Drawings 1 & 2
Cathedra Drawings 1 & 2 installed at the Palace Gallery, Canada 1995 Cathedra Drawings 1 & 2 installed at the Palace Gallery, Canada 1995
Cathedra 1 and 2 drawings are shown exhibited here using the entire space of a small gallery. Viewers could only see the works outside through the gallery windows standing on sidewalk or from the road. Bright lights were used to make the piece more attractive to drive-by viewers at night.

note: Regrettably, this work was partially destroyed when after the gallery in which these works were installed was broken into and the drawings were subjected to very poorly done graffiti. I wouldn't have minded this act of graffiti so much if the vandals had of made good drawings over top of mine. I would have actually considered it a collaboration, not unlike Rauschenberg erasing a William DeKooning. As it was, the perpetrators only drew a male sex organ between the legs of Cathedra 2. Unfortunately, the best these poor and unskilled artists could manage, with their drawing of a penis, was something that you might suspect "Popeye" of cartoon fame would be endowed with. Very poor taste! Some small towns are still inhabited with small minded people! I felt and still feel victimized by this arrogant act as the gallery was not forcibly entered. Even sadder, I suspect these individuals had keys as the gallery was an artist run collective space - The Palace Gallery, London Canada. Those years being a time of recluse and introspection for me this event only helped exacerbated my already deepening depression. Today I just look back and shake my head, hoping to find the time and redo the work. G.P.

  are we all in this maze together looking for an exit or is it truly every one for themselves

... click on any image for an enlargement ...

Joshua 1993 Detail from Joshua 1993
I named this painting after my son Joshua Ensi Pas who was eight years old at the time. The fact that the portrait looked nothing like my son was unimportant as the painting was an abstract, which I had created based on a composition of the same name by Barnett Newman.

unless terribly sick no one person truly exists for themselves
even Echo pined love for Narcissus and Theseus lead his fellow captives free of the maze

I'm afraid of more than Red, Red, Yellow, Yellow and Blue, Blue. (subtitled: Poliomyelitis)
I'm afraid of more than Red, Red, Yellow, Yellow and Blue, Blue. (subtitled: Poliomyelitis) 1994 I'm afraid of more than Red, Red, Yellow, Yellow and Blue, Blue. (subtitled: Poliomyelitis) - Installed at The McIntosh Gallery, London, Canada. 1994 Alternative view of - I'm afraid of more than Red, Red, Yellow, Yellow and Blue, Blue. (subtitled: Poliomyelitis) 1994 Alternative view of - I'm afraid of more than Red, Red, Yellow, Yellow and Blue, Blue. (subtitled: Poliomyelitis) 1994
I created this work with a twofold purpose. The first was purely as a polemical debate with Barnett Newman, who had painted a very large work (5.44 X 2.45 m.) titled "Who's afraid of Red Yellow and Blue III", in 1967-98. I wanted to answer Newman's question with "I'm am not only afraid but I am afraid of more than just that." thus my lengthy title. I also wanted to convey exactly what I was afraid of and that is why I stuttered the title with the pronunciation of the primary colours: additionally the subtitle concludes my painterly thesis with just one example of what I might be afraid of, disease!
I think that were my Cathedra's 1 and 2 might have been the breakthrough in my attempt to understand colourfield and it's synthesis with the human anatomy, this painting conveys how rapidly I could then take the language and turn it back into a critique of modernism. I think the pertinence of this critique is that it is not only a theoretical one but rather also reflects my own existential experience's, as I had suffered from the disease of Polio as a child. If you look carefully at the painting you'll notice that the yellow on yellow column of colour shows an atrophied arm over and against the muscular blue arm on the works opposite side. I am indeed afraid of more than red, yellow and blue! G.P.
then there's the sudden fear of recognition as it dawns on you just where you are

Works painted by Mouth
or Mouth Pieces
Mouth Piece #2 - 1994 Mouth Piece #3 - 1994
The above works are from a small series of watercolour paintings which were painted entirely by mouth. This means that they were drawn, paints were mixed and then painted by placing the tools between my teeth and not using my hands at all. I made special pencils and brushes by wrapping tape around the handles, so that I could grip them in my teeth and I also raised my work table to accommodate the ergonomics.
Over the years, I had become tired if not annoyed of receiving the endless request to purchase stacks of "Foot and Mouth Greeting Cards" through my mail box every holiday season. I couldn't understand why these cards were so, well, so dam ugly. I really wanted to say something about it.
I was already angered by some criticism I received, from people asking "Do you like being the token Crippled Artist of the International Art Scene?" I was livid at this myopia and confused at being reduced, into a marginalized subgroup and made to feel that this was somehow a deficiency, a detractor to my art. To me such questions are like asking Jean Michel Basquiat, or Peter Bradley if they like being the token black's of modern art. Who actually gives a tinkers dam? If their art is good enough to be exhibited, who cares how it got there. I had been taught and thought that this art making thing was about the quality of the artists work. In my opinion good art is good art and bad art sucks no matter who makes it. The acid test: look at it and see - the proverbial truth is there hanging on the wall for all to see. Sure some people get ahead using politics but after being in New York long enough, I don't think anyone can sustain interest in their work without having something in it which has merit; otherwise like most trends here today and gone tomorrow.
So I was really pissed and these greeting cards only reinforced my anger: they represented something terrible to me: people selling something off as art, not because it was good art but simply because it was art made by the disabled. Like some kind of sick dog and pony or incredible feats show, they were saying "look these hapless cripples can do something".
I thought that before making a public critique of so called "Foot and Mouth Art", I should try doing it myself. So I dedicated several works made entirely by mouth to it. During this time, as a University Studio Instructor, I also had my drawing class students spend several hours drawing with their pencils between their toes. I was very happy with the way these paintings and our other collective experiments in drawing turned out. G.P.

then there are those who would sell you carts full of spurious maps and tissues of lies
why are the depraved or the weak most often the ones who are preyed upon

Two Supplemental Works
In view of our perpetually changing
language I unable to finish this text!
watercolour on paper
Greg Curnoe in the Forest City
Mariposa T.T. 1993-94
watercolour on paper
During the early and late 1990's I also did several paintings which did not fit into the bodies of work of which are seen above. Here are two such examples.

The painting of Toronto, on the left was started in the mid eighties, it sat in the corner of my studio until I completed it some 7 years later. I had spent almost seven months working on this painting before growing tired and frustrated with it. The painting had truly become an act of obsession: e.g. with curtains painted in many the windows of the skyscrapers using a sable brush with only two or three hairs. I finished the painting by adding the texts and titles.

The painting on the right was an act of both love and despair. Two of the most pivotal men in my life died within the proximity of one year of each other. The fact I was heading towards a period of depression was not helped by these great losses. The first loss was my grandfather Emanuel Bouwels, of cancer and the second was my friend Greg Curnoe, who was killed in a tragic cycling accident. The three of us shared one common joy and that was cycling and bike racing. My grandfather taught me to love the Tour De France as a young man in Holland and Greg and I just loved to discuss the sport of cycling while only long rides with our cycling club "London Centennial Wheelers". I miss them both dearly and still haven't gotten over Greg's untimely death. With this work I simply took one of Greg's race bike paintings and switched out his wheels for these saw blades, on which is written caution in several languages.

admitting your lost is the first step to finding your way
better to light one candle than to sit and complain in the dark

... click on any of the above images for an enlargement ...

Visit the works in the Late Nineties Gallery by clicking here
please click any of the above images to advance to that section or gallery

Return to top of page.
© Gerard Pas