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Paul Laffoley: The Visionary Point

  • Francis Nauman Fine Art (map)

Paul Laffoley (1935-2015) was a dreamer.  That is what he was called by his mentor, the visionary architect Frederick Kiesler (1890-1965), who he met while in his mid-twenties and under whom he apprenticed for about a year in New York.  Laffoley was never able to determine if Kiesler's remark was a compliment or an insult, but it is perhaps no coincidence that his career as an artist began with a dream.  In July of 1961, after having been subjected to multiple sessions of electric-shock therapy for a condition of catatonia (a state of lethargy caused by a mental disorder), he dreamt that he attended an art exhibition containing sculptures that were so precise in their expression that he was overwhelmed.  "All the forms I've been thinking about or could think about for years and years to come," he later recalled, "are expressed in this work."  He would spend the next fifty years creating works of art that attempted to approach the clarity of vision expressed in those sculptures, paintings that are so complex, transdisciplinary, theoretical and all-encompassing in their message that they are best described-like the architecture of Frederick Kiesler-as visionary.  

IMAGE: Paul Laffoley, The Visionary Point, 1970, Oil, Acrylic and hand applied, vinyl letters on canvas, 73 ½ x 73 ½ in. / 185.4 x 185.4 cm