Gerard Päs

9 February 1989 - 11 March 1989
Opening Reception 9 February 1989 8pm

West Gallery:

Red-Blue Works

For this solo exhibition at Mercer Union, London, Ontario artist Gerard Päs draws on both his early childhood experiences of being handicapped and his interest in the early 20th century art movements – De Stijl, Neo-Plasticism, Suprematism and Constructivism. Disassembling and transforming the familiar ambulatory aids, crutches and wheelchairs, he creates new sculptures and objects of art.

Working from his subjective experiences, Päs brings an objective critique to the ideals of pure form and functional design expressed in the aesthetics of these early 20th century movements. For example, Päs appropriates Rietveld’s famous Red Blue Chair, described as awkward and uncomfortable to sit in for long, and transforms it into a wheelchair. Through a process of fragmentation and assimilation, he forces a consideration of the gap between form and function and between the ideal proposition and the real condition.

Gerard Päs has exhibited and performed extensively throughout Canada, as well as the Netherlands, Switzerland, West Germany, Italy, Hungary, the United States and Poland. His exhibition of recent sculptures and works on paper at Mercer Union represents an extension of the artist’s works included in PaS PLUS – PaS MOINS, his solo exhibition at the McIntosh Gallery, The University of Western Ontario in London in January of l988. Red- Blue Works opens Thursday February 9 at 8:00 pm and continues through Saturday March 11.

Gerard Päs: Red-Blue Works
Jane Perdue
NOW Magazine, March 9-15, 1989

Gerard Päs’ elegant new sculpture and works on paper mark a significant shift in his career. Since serving as Easter Seal’s “Timmy” for their 1965 fundraising campaign, Päs has never been comfortable playing such an idealized role. But his angst-ridden performances and videos focusing on the trauma and pain of childhood polio have gained him a solid following in Canada and Europe.

“I was raised a hopeful person and suddenly the world wasn’t as kind as I’d thought ‘ says Päs. “I spent much of my youth coming to terms with feeling abstracted from the norm in society, and being pulled and used as an abstraction.”

While Päs left performance and video art in the early 80s to paint landscapes and portraits, his newest work returns to his physical handicap as subject matter “to get it out of my system.” With the earlier anger gone, Pas is using humour for the first time.

He works with the utopian ideals of functional design and pure form of early 20th century art movements, including De Stijl–from his native Holland–and Russian Constructivism.

His disassembled crutches, for example, lacquered black, red, yellow and blue, are transformed from ambulatory aids to sculpture, and recently were featured in Italian design magazine Domus. Gerrit Rietveld’s famous Red-Blue Chair is mischievously changed into a gorgeous but uncomfortable wheel chair.

“My work has myriad different meanings. An applied form turned back into an art object–like the crutch–can be interpreted at face value, as a criticism of post-modernism, or as a reversal of the applied-design tradition.”