Stages No. 8 1986–87
Harold Town, Stages No. 8, 1986–87
Mixed media on acid-free rag board,
40.6 x 46.2 cm
Thielsen Gallery, London, Ontario
During 1986–88 Town undertook a new series of abstract works, the Stages paintings. Cultural critic Brian Boigon aptly dubbed them “the bionic circuitry of Harold Town,” observing that they “freeze framed the visual language of his entire graphic repertoire... with an all-out instant replay on compact disc.” Town glues a succession of diminishing rectangles of mat board one on top of another, allowing the visible edges of each to become the frame for the one glued over it. These frames, painted or printed in acrylic, carry strips of pattern that interweave from one layer to the next, reprising some of his earlier compositional devices (attention to corners, the use of frames as spatial and ordering devices) in aesthetically skilful juxtapositions that rival the art of Japanese kimono fabric. Turning to one of his favourite metaphors, the theatre, Town presents the central square as a lighted stage toward which all the surrounding layers converge.