Wendy Coad Canadian b. 1951

Square Mouth

acrylic on paper
105.5 x 172.1 cm

Saskatchewan Arts Board Permanent Collection

About the work "I guess painting in that way (abstract expressionist) was a good exercise. It helped to loosen me up. But at the same time I was always doodling in figures and worked privately in the closet with figures."..."When I began these works (most of which were made in 1980) I didn't have figures in mind. I just began as I had begun the abstract paintings working on paper, and the figures developed as I went along. I would feel an arm was right for a particular place and an arm shape would form." - June 10, 1982 Leader-Post article. Coad initially painted in a non-figurative mode..Although her earliest works displayed all the hallmarks of abstract expressionism, Coad admits that she always saw figures buried in these pictures, but was reluctant to bring them out. These "closet figures," as she refers to them...are represented by the present works in exhibition. "I felt I had been offered little asssistance in my art training, that two keys to guaranteeing failure were to paint figuratively and to be a woman artist. I had been working for several years in isolation and felt a great deal of hostility toward the art world. I had nothing left to lose. This work released much of that hostility." Coad maintains that the creation of figurative paintings was not her prime concern...From the suggestive results of splashes and dripping paint, the figure emerged...Their power to disturb is informed by the artist's observation of life on Saskatoon's 20th Street. "I have known and watched a part of humanity who are defeated. I've seen them bleed, convulse, and struggle to no avail." ...Anger and hate seem to motivate the grimace of "square mouth". Coad comments on these images: "I'm not comfortable dealing with their violence, torment and their sense of defeat. They offer no escape. They are losers, isolated in their roles...invoking you to share them." - text is from 1982 NMAG catalogue with quotes from a 7 April, 1982 letter from Wendy to Michael Parke-Taylor.
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