Known primarily for her hybrid felt and wool sculptures, Luanne Martineau belongs to a generation of artists who use traditional craft techniques and materials to produce critically engaged and formally astonishing artworks.
Martineau’s labour-intensive felt sculptures, virtually impossible to describe in all their visual and physical complexity, produce an experience that oscillates between fascination and repulsion, between the macroscopic and the microscopic. This exhibition presents a dozen recent works, including an artist’s book, felt sculptures, drawings and what Martineau calls “drulptures” – a unique combination of the two latter disciplines.
Through her work, Luanne Martineau engages in a series of “conversations” with a diverse range of interlocutors that include Abstract Expressionism, Postminimalism, Feminism, popular culture, prairie ruralism and craft. Particularly interested in the history of art and an avid reader of artists’ writings, she consciously and systematically unpacks the formal, critical and ideological underpinnings of American avant-garde art since the 1950s. In the process, she orchestrates encounters between the brutally organic nature of her images, forms associated with high-modernist art – Barnett Newman’s zips, Willem de Kooning’s gaping mouths, Philip Guston’s cigarettes – and craft techniques in a way that destabilizes the ideological foundations of her references. Martineau’s use of needled and industrial felt allows her to partake in these conversations from a distance, outside the traditional mediums of painting and sculpture, while conducting a concurrent dialogue with contemporary craft.
Luanne Martineau was born in 1970 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and currently lives and works in Victoria, British Columbia, where she is Assistant Professor of Theory and Drawing at the University of Victoria. She was shortlisted for the 2009 Sobey Art Award, and her works are represented in a number of collections, including those of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the National Gallery of Canada and the Vancouver Art Gallery.