OK. I decided to bring him over to Claude Tousignant’s current retrospective at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, thinking this could be the ideal occasion to compare our observations and interpretations. Tousignant is best known for his abstract, often monochromatic paintings, such as the Accélérateurs chromatiques (Chromatic accelerators) and Gong series, both of which show enough concentric circles of various tints to drive you nuts if you stare at them for too long. That’s why I was curious to see the reaction of someone who might not be able to tell the difference between greens and reds.
We walked all around the exhibition, and it turned out that it wasn’t only about colour perception. “To be perfectly honest,” John said, “I don’t think it makes any difference not being able to see greens and reds. Actually, I don’t think it has anything to do with colour at all. Dude, I’m sorry, but if you were expecting me to write an account of my experience for your article, I guess you’ll have to find a new angle to it.”
And he was right. It could have been any other colour. It didn’t really matter. There’s a weird sense of abstraction when you face monochrome paintings – paintings filled with nothing but plain colour – it’s an immersive experience outside of the real world. I entered a little dark room in the back, with bright, luminescent tetrahedrons. I never actually believed in chromotherapy and light therapy and all that kind of stuff, but I swear, I didn’t pay attention to shapes and shades. I couldn’t care less. I simply felt like I was brought somewhere else, somewhere between time and space. John came in. We both stayed in the room with the tetrahedrons, in silence, unable to speak.
Claude Tousignant, A Retrospective.
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
185 Ste. Catherine Street West
Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Until April 26, 2009
View more photos of Claude Tousignant’s retrospective on my Flickr account.