Contemporary life has witnessed the dismantling of public space as well as the erosion of privacy. Their definition and distinction has been lost as one has blended into the other. Both spheres have suffered from massive overrationalization. Therrien’s art reclaims private space and the inner fantasy life of the individual, not as a refuge from public life but rather as the very preconditions for its resuscitation.
Preserving the condition of privacy as a necessary space for spiritual reflection and concentration has become one of the most pressing demands on art today in the age of surplus, disposable information. How to reconcile the recreational resources of fantasy and the reality principle, how to harness the energies of the past (including childhood) to the needs of the present; how to restore the primacy of compassion and genuine feeling to the economically driven public world and to a culture drunk on global mediation and technical prowess: these concerns, perhaps, epitomize Therrien’s poetic quest. Through its harmonization of sensuality, structural clarity, economy and probity, humour and beauty, Therrien’s art mediates between the demands of public and domestic life. It offers a vision of life that is full of mystery, urbanity and gentleness. Through its quiet self-assurance that admits vulnerability and idiosyncrasy, it disarms the manifold schisms and polarizations of belief that pervade the art and politics of our times and our culture. Perhaps it is appropriate to consider Therrien’s art as tending toward the resolution of a split or imbalance in our culture between the values of judgment and compassion. (2) These are two distinct kinds of activity, the one requiring the affirmation of boundaries and the drawing of distinctions between things, weighing, measuring and comparing them and the other demanding empathic insight into another person’s situation and feelings. Both these capacities are joined in Therrien’s art, in the sympathetic attraction or iconic capacity of his humble artifacts and in their structural/formal acuity. Gregory Salzman is an independent curator and art writer living in Toronto.
L’auteur fait ressortir, dans le travail de l’artiste americain Robert Therrien, une oscillation etrange entre differents types d’opposition: minimalisme et pop art, abstraction et figuration, sacre et profane, rationnel et emotif. Bien qu’il soit tentant de considerer ses formes polychromes rigoureusement simplifiees comme de simples reflexions sur la sculpture, elles sont dotees d’une etonnante capacite d’incarner des etats emotifs et imaginaires. Ayant recours a des motifs iconiques riches en metaphores – bonhomme de neige, forme ovale, cone, nuages -, les sculptures de Therrien servent d’intermediaire entre l’espace public et l’intimite.