Spatiality or dimensionality is the crux of this imaginative capacitation. The spatiality of Therrien’s art differs from the phenomenological inscription of the viewer in the work that was Minimalism’s signal achievement. Minimalism linked the sculptural object to its surroundings and made the experience of the work contingent on the shifting position of the spectator in real space. Minimalist space, however, was logical and geometrical and was bound by a positivist analytical outlook. Minimalism’s shortcomings were connected to its materialism and its deluded emulation of a scientific model of objectivity. It failed to speak to the viewer’s feelings, memories, desires and fantasies all of which impinge directly on the imagination and on its role in representation.
Imaginative space is a function of the individual’s interiority and is a partly virtual space that differs radically from the rational, phenomenologically informed space of minimalist work. Therrien’s sculptures interiorize space as much as they inhabit it. Colour, as a spiritualized substance that modulates space and engages the emotions, plays an inestimably important role in Therrien’s art and contributes to the spatiality and partial dematerialization of his objects.
Whereas in Therrien’s art dematerialization is at the service of reverie and of feeling, in Pop Art dematerialization of the object was bound to its glamour as a commodity and to the commodity’s reification, according to which image replaces feeling. The dematerialization of the pop artwork was a part of its ironic, compromised condition as a banal icon, a hypocritical object that was predicated on aura even as it sought to do away with it. Pop Art, thoroughly informed by consumerist values – for example, pursuit of instant gratification, transparency, immediacy and “relevance” (that buzzword of the sixties) – had no regard for privacy or for a space of self-reflection. Therrien’s art, while sharing the literalism and banality of the pop and minimalist object and Pop Art’s fascination with the object as icon, has finally more to do with the commonality of domestic space than with the alienated world of the commodity. Still, Therrien is intrigued by the aura that can accrue to objects and by their mysterious capacity to embody feelings.