DAVID SORENSEN: 2010
(David Sorensen, May 1974 - Photograph by Gabor Szilasi)
Sorensen’s education in Art was at once formal and serendipitous; he studied Arts and Science at the University of British Columbia for two years then entering the School of Architecture under Arthur Ericson. Completing first year, then working as an office draftsman for the summer in Vancouver, he set off in 1959 for the Brussels’ World Fair.
For a year he traveled throughout Europe in a Volkswagen filling sketchpads through the Scandinavian countries, Berlin, Paris, the Loire valley, south through Spain, Italy, Greece and finally to Istanbul. Within a classical backdrop Sorensen saw the big American Abstract Expressionist breakthrough show in Paris, and discovered Mark Rothko among deKooning, Pollock, Kline and the other cutting edge American artists.
Returning to Vancouver he entered the Vancouver School of Art with Jack Harman and Jack Shadbolt and in the first summer he did a carving course with Bill Reid. Shadbolt, who had studied with Hans Hoffman, brought Clement Greenberg twice to the Vancouver School of Art, and the stimulating texts were absorbed. With graduation (1962), Sorensen took part in a Northwest Institute of Sculpture exhibit at U.B.C. where he showed two monumental works and a smaller welded bronze which garnered him a bursary from the Thea Koerner Foundation to study bronze casting techniques in Mexico.
Sorensen’s close friend, the Dutch sculptor Peter Knigge had offered to introduce him to Maestro Francisco Zuniga, which he did. Following some seven months of work there in D.F. and on the west coast, Sorensen’s first solo show ever was in Mexico City at the prestigious Turok Wasserman Gallery in 1964. This consisted of a group of brush drawings and sculptures executed in Mexico and brought top press reviews most notably from Excelsior’s Margarita Nelkin, the outstanding Mexican art critic of the day. She related the drawings to Rembrandt and the sculptures to Mathias Goeritz.
In 1966, returning to Canada he took up residence in Montreal and established St. Henri studio links with Hugh Leroy, Francois Dery and Martin Dufour, all Sir George Williams University students of minimalist Alfred Pinsky. Seymour Segal, another new friend, then implemented a position for Sorensen teaching sculpture in the Saidye Bronfman Centre summer school program.
In the St. Henri studio Sorensen produced a series of sculptures called “Growth” and was invited to exhibit at the Expo ‘67 World Exhibition’s Youth Pavilion. A Canada Council grant enabled him to cast three of the works in bronze at the Avnet Shaw Foundry in New York for the exhibit, and the rest he cast in ciment fondu at the St.Henri studio. Robert Ayer’s positive review of this show in the Montreal Star brought Sorensen’s first recognition in this city. The same exhibition followed with Sorensen’s first showing at the Carmen Lamanna Gallery in Toronto.
Following that, Leroy, by invitation, replaced Arthur Lismer at the Montreal Museum School of Fine Art and Design and Sorensen was hired to teach Sculpture and Drawing there in 1968. Lismer remained for some time, and occasionally dropped in on Sorensen’s classes. To this day Sorensen has fond memories of Lismer.
Subsequently, Sorensen continued his teaching in Montreal in the C.E.G.E.P. system, at the Dawson, Selby, and Viger campuses.
He did his first formal Canadian gallery show at the Jason Teft Gallery in old Montreal consisting primarily of ink drawings and a few of the Mexican sculptures. With his studio space now filling with new sculptures, he shifted his interest to watercolors, and gradually to paintings on canvas. In 1974, he was invited to show in Martha Landsman’s new Galerie Espace Cinq on Sherbrooke Street. Landsman discovered some of Sorensen’s earlier smaller paintings on canvas and was instrumental in encouraging and furthering him in this direction. Her new gallery was slated to open in the months ahead and the gallery purported to show the important UNSHOWN of Montreal.
(Installation: Sorensen's solo show at Montreal's Galeria Espace Cinq, 1974)
Sorensen’s works resulted from a return trip to Mexico, by now with full attention on painting, and the production of large-scale, color- saturated acrylics done in his Avenida Insurgentes studio in Mexico City. He worked on stretchers on both the floor and on the wall. The sunlight and colour of Mexico was a big influence. In Montreal this series received top reviews from critics such as Quebec author Pierre Vallieres and visiting French critic and poet Robert Marteau. Virginia Nixon also critiqued the show very positively.
Landsman then took the work of several of her artists to the Basel International Art Fair, which for Sorensen resulted in invitations to show in 1975, first in Paris (Galerie A.A.R.P. with Francoise Palluel), then later in Milan (Galleria del Millione). Arnold Steinberg supported him in renting a large studio on Montreal’s St.Laurent Street to paint the Milan works in.
(Sorensen's studio on Montreal's Saint-Laurent Street, 1975)
On return to Canada via travel first in Tunisia, then France and England, Sorensen designed through the winter of ’76, and then built a solar house in the summer of ’77 in the Eastern Townships in Quebec. With his new family he then made the move to the country. The local Fine Arts departments, first at Champlain College and then at Bishop’s University, hired him on as a Fine Arts professor.
As the Galerie Espace Cinq in Montreal had closed, relocating Sorensen with Galerie Gilles Corbeil, he followed with three exhibitions there (1977,1979, and 1981). In 1981, he also exhibited a solo show in New York with Vorpal Gallery (Center Line Series). In 1982, Sorensen showed with Don Stewart Gallery, followed by a solo at Place des Arts in Montreal (Chamela Series) painted on a return sabbatical trip to Mexico.
In Canada, Sorensen produced the “Corner Series” which opened in Waddington-Gorce Gallery in Montreal (1984), then both in Toronto and Vancouver with the Bau-Xi Gallery. It was well received and critiqued in all three cities, accompanied by Sorensen’s first catalogue “The Corner Series” with the essay by Leo Rosshandler. With Waddington Sorensen had two years of representation at the Navy Pier show in Chicago. With the Bau-Xi Gallery, Sorensen exhibited solo shows in Toronto and Vancouver on a regular basis from the year 1981 until 1999.
Over the years Sorensen cast small-scale bronzes with Art Cast in Ontario (“River’s End “ 1984, and the “Millennium Steles” 1990 -1992). As well, he realized with a Quebec Ministry grant, vertical 9 to 12 ft. steel sculptures in the Sky Series (1989). The latter are presently located in Musee du Bas Saint-Laurent and Musee de Rimouski.
In 1990, Sorensen did his first solo show with Wallack Galleries in Ottawa. In 1991 the Sorensens traveled to Europe, India, Hong Kong, Japan, and the Philippines. The inspiration prompted several series, paintings done in the Eastern Townships based on constructs, grids and Kimono shapes. Exhibits of the Asian View followed in 1993 at Tokyo’s Canadian Embassy, in Manila at the Metropolitan Museum and the Luz Gallery, and in Hong Kong at the Touchstone Gallery.
(Sorensen at his Eastern Townships studio, 1992)
Then in 1995, back again to the Townships, the “Acculturation Grids and Screens Series” was painted. Exhibits followed at the University of Sherbrooke, at the Bau-xi Gallery in Toronto, and at Galerie Etoile in Boston. In 1996 Sorensen was nominated to the Royal Canadian Academy of Art.
In 2000, Sorensen retired from Bishop’s University after 19 years of service.
His second major show in Mexico was during Canada Week in 2001 in Guadalajara at the Ex-Convento del Carmen exhibiting space. Following this, a 15-year retrospective exhibit took place at the Centre Culturel Yvonne L. Bombardier in Valcourt, Quebec. Sorensen’s fifth catalogue “Abstraction: From Here to Now” (2001), essay by John K.Grande, and was produced by the Fondation J. Armand Bombardier.
In 2002, he had opted in Toronto for the Moore Gallery (first showing with him in Hamilton in 1992). This gallery still represents him in Toronto.
2002 was also the year that he was honored Professor Emeritus at Bishop’s University.
In 2003, he did a solo exhibition, which consisted of seven enormous canvases especially painted for the space of the Musee des beaux-arts de Sherbrooke, with his sixth published catalogue “Suite de l’Estrie”, essays by Cecile Gelinas and Laurier Lacroix.
By November 2004, the Sorensens were re-established back from the Townships to Montreal, with permanent links across Canada and Mexico.
(Sorensen at his Montreal studio, 2006)
In 2005, a 45-year retrospective took place in the Musee du Bas Saint-Laurent in Riviere-du-Loup accompanied with a 144-p. catalogue “David Sorensen: Intimacy of Light”, with essays by Charles Bourget, Francois-Marc Gagnon, Serge Fisette, and Ann Davis.
That year, Sorensen was appointed to the R.C.A. Governing Council.
Subsequently, he expanded further with new representation in galleries such as Studio 21 Fine Art in Halifax (solo 2006, and upcoming in 2010), and Michael Gibson in London, Ontario (solo 2007 and 2008). As well, Virginia Christopher Fine Art represents him in Calgary.
In 2007 Sorensen exhibited large works at the Mexican Embassy Gallery ‘Espacio Mexico’ in Montreal. As well, Galeria Vertice in Guadalajara sent the first Horizon Series chapter on a tour of museums and cultural centers throughout the republic of Mexico, including venues in Guadalajara, Leon, Guanajuato, Irapuato, and Torreon. The catalogue “Horizon Series”, with essays by Federico Ramos and Gutierre Aceves, accompanied this touring show.
In the same year, Sorensen was appointed to the R.C.A. Advocacy Committee.
In 2009, Sorensen was included in a museum exhibition in Ube City, Japan; an invitational that showed international submissions of maquettes for an enormous outdoor sculpture.
Sorensen’s current painted works, the “First Decade Horizons”, with the most recent catalogue of the same name, essay by Sandra Grant Marchand, is the second major body of work on the “horizon” theme and was exhibited in Galeria Vertice in a two-person show with the prominent Japanese/Mexican sculptor, Hiroyuki Okumura (Feb. 2009). The paintings were also exhibited later in Galeria Vertice / Leon, and then with Galeria Naxica in Mexico City (November 11 – January 21, 2010).
Sorensen is slated to do a second Espacio Mexico exhibit in Montreal, this time a two-person show with Mexico City painter Jose Luis Bustamante in June 17 - July 30, 2010; then a solo show at the Michael Gibson Gallery, also in July; as well another duo show with sculptor Hiroyuki Okumura October 8 - November 3, 2010 at Studio 21 Fine Art in Halifax.
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