Rita Letendre: Themes and Variations

May 9 - July 24, 2011

Winner of a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2010, the Abenaki / Québécoise artist Rita Letendre attracted attention early on as an abstract painter to watch.

Introduced to the circle of Automatiste painters grouped around Paul-Émile Borduas, Letendre developed a style characterized by brooding emotion, an abundant use of black, and turbulent forms.

By the late sixties, resident in California with her husband, the Israeli sculptor Kosso Eloul, she abandoned oil for acrylics. Her paintings became increasingly monumental, organized around dynamic spatial vectors that charged the space of the canvas with luminous energy. In the 1990s her work softened and became more lyrical, focused on the sky and its changing light and moods.

While in California, Letendre was introduced to printmaking at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop and produced her first prints in 1965. She went on to master serigraphy, which easily lent itself to her flat, colourful and highly graphic images.

From the mid-sixties to the 1980s, her printmaking echoed the evolving direction of her painting, by the mid-seventies beginning to reflect the more atmospheric textures suggestive of natural light effects in the landscape. Yet although her prints are necessarily smaller in scale than her paintings, they ambitious expressions in their own right that translate the painterly qualities of her vision with subtle fidelity.

Drawn from the University’s art collection, this exhibition spans three decades of Letendre’s work, from 1965 to 1997, and includes examples of her lithographs, serigraphs and aquatints as well as some pastels and paintings.

Curated by

Diana Nemiroff

Artists in the exhibition

Rita Letendre