Have you seen the lines and squiggles housed in a grid of 12-inch squares in the EV building’s corridor recently? It’s not a glorious game of Sudoku. This is wall drawing #394, originally by Sol LeWitt, and now being recreated by Concordia’s fine arts students.
This all started when Eric Simon, chair of the studio arts department, traveled to France to see an exhibit of LeWitt’s wall drawings. After speaking with François Morelli, professor of studio arts at Concordia, the two decided that they needed to bring LeWitt’s work, and the opportunity to reproduce it, to Concordia’s students. They arranged for permission from Sofia, LeWitt’s daughter and his estate manager, choose four drawings from the series, and co-ordinated exhibition locations with the Faculty Of Fine Arts (FOFA) Gallery.
“There are over 160 wall drawings … there is always a lot of demand, especially for Sol,” explained artist and LeWitt’s assistant since 1980, Anthony Sansotta. Initially, Simon and Morelli’s plan was for Sansotta to write up instructions of what was needed for the drawings to be done by students. “[Then] they said ‘what if you came up here and did a tutorial?’ So I said sure, that would be fine. And that’s what happened,” said Sansotta.
Sansotta’s arrival in Montreal meant that he was able to personally work with students, guiding them in the preparation and reproduction of LeWitt’s work. “I know his work quite well and what he had in mind in a way, even if it is not expressed,” said Sansotta.
LeWitt’s wall drawings have prescribed physical parameters, predetermined types of lines, and specific mediums which lines should be constructed out of. So while there is some wiggle room for personal choice, there is only one correct way of interpretation, making it a delicately laborious endeavor for the students. Therefore it was advantageous to have had Sansotta there to mentor the undergraduate and graduate fine arts students who had been selected for this project.
“When all the students arrived on Monday morning, I remember vividly the first thing that Anthony [Sansotta] made clear to them was that the first action they take is [measuring] the wall,” recalls Morelli. Standing at over 33 meters long and 4 feet high, the piece, encased in the FOFA Gallery vitrine, will no doubt be a showstopper upon completion.
Such is the case with wall drawing #1099, completed and proudly displayed on the Ste-Catherine St. vitrine of the FOFA Gallery. wall drawing #1099 consists of 10,000 lines. To be more exact, 10,000 not-straight lines. Of this work, FOFA director jake moore explains that “two artists in particular were chosen for [the] project because they have performative and durational drawing practices. But it’s not because they can then best interpret Sol’s work, it’s not about that interpretation. They have the skill set to draw 10,000 not straight lines of equal weight within a milieu. There is a remarkable embodied knowledge that’s present here.”
The two other recreations of LeWitt’s wall drawings can be found in the VA building hallways. Together with the two showcased at FOFA gallery, the drawings stand as a testament to the planning and onerous execution of Concordia’s fine arts faculty and students.
Sol LeWitt wall drawings: Facilitated by Anthony Sansotta runs from Sept. 3 until Oct. 25 at the FOFA Gallery and in the VA building.