After seeing the exhibition, the painter David Urban remarked that Plotek has solved the problem of modernism’s restrictions (a modernism Plotek came to by way of his Russian predecessors, the Montréal scene and mentors Roy Kiyooka and Yves Gaucher) by not confining himself to any single period or modality. One finds aspects of much of the history of art – the Renaissance and baroque, approaches of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, cubism, comic books and abstraction – fully assimilated into a singular practice without recourse to pastiche. This range is not meant to be a game of identifying styles or a test of erudition but forms a home base of intention internal to him.
Plotek’s best works offer a form of everything. Certainly the more you give them in the act of looking and understanding, the more you get. This is an everything that understands the impossibility of its own impulse. With more generosity than cruelty, it seems to me, Plotek understands the probability – the ease – of finding oneself in something like the states of his characters, in circumstances that we might call too much. An everything in the service of the too much that is the mystery and the weight of the world.
John Berger, A Painter of Our Time (London: Secker & Warburg, 1958).
John Berger, Keeping A Rendevous (New York: Pantheon Books, 1991).
José Ortega y Gasset, Historical Reason (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1984).
Horace Gregory, Ovid, The Metamorphoses (New York: The Viking Press, 1958).
Leopold Plotek was born in Moscow, USSR, in 1948, and emigrated to Canada from Warsaw, Poland in 1960. He was educated at McGill and at Sir George Williams University, where he was the pupil of Roy Kiyooka and Yves Gaucher, and at the Slade School of Art under William Townsend. He lives and works in Montréal, where he is also Professor of Fine Art at Concordia University. Since 1976 his work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions including the National Gallery of Canada’s Inaugural Exhibition, at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Plotek’s works are held by major public collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, and the Canada Council for the Arts. Plotek is represented by the Corkin Gallery in Toronto.
E.C. Woodley is a critic, curator, artist and composer based in Toronto.
Design: Tony Hewer | Editing: Shannon Anderson
Digital publication to the exhibition Leopold Plotek: No Work, Nor Device, Nor Knowledge, Nor Wisdom
Presented by the Koffler Gallery | January 19 to March 19, 2017 | Guest Curator: E.C. Woodley
© Koffler Centre of the Arts, 2018, in collaboration with the individual contributors. All rights reserved. ISBN 978-1-928175-13-1.