Ed Touchette


At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the late 1960s, Ed Touchette was inspired by his reading of Mailer, Melville, and others to leave college and write.

Alex Yatsevich, Professor of Architecture, called Touchette into his office and pointed to a drawing of Paul Klee’s on the wall. Yatsevich, who had worked with Klee and Kandisky at the Bauhaus, told Touchette that if he wanted to write books, that is good, “but I don’t care if you want to bake bread: study architecture!”

Persuaded, Touchette went on to major in architecture; then took up piano and guitar, studying composition and jazz improvisation; then took up painting and drawing, a practice he has continued for over forty years, deeply inspired by enduring passions for literature, architecture, music, and visual art.

. . .

Ed Touchette’s latest paintings are often simplified shapes and colors in an energetic composition, establishing a kinetic tension and visual liveliness. Often, simple painted black lines create remarkable depth and volume, or else cluster into runes. Several closely interwoven frames of reference inform them. To the fore recently have been the novels of Italo Calvino, especially Invisible Cities and Castle of Crossed Destinies.

Inspired by historical accounts of the meetings between the Venetian explorer Marco Polo and the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan in the late 13th century, Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities offers its readers a compendium of brief, poetical descriptions of extraordinarily imaginative, fantastical cities, told in the novel by the explorer to the emperor. A highly sympathetic architectural and literary wonder inspires Touchette’s paintings and becomes explicit in his more complex compositions, which seem like the spontaneous records of a mind marveling at a public monument, a busy construction site, or a bustling city from a high vantage.

At the same time, Touchette’s paintings are also strikingly generative, not recorded impressions but the expression of imaginative forces, optimism, joy, and ideas of order: the assertion of his architectural imagination extends to structure the cosmos.

This duality suggests parallels between these paintings and poetry, which poet Wallace Stevens has described as an interdependence of imagination and reality as equals. Touchette’s paintings, like poetry, are principled constructions of creative imagination. They offer a vision of a chaotic utopia and invite us to participate through aesthetic contemplation and delight.

Current & Planned
November 23, 2019December 24, 2019
An exhibition which invites you to take a closer look as the year 2020 approaches.
Past Solo Exhibitions with Matthew Swift Gallery
Ed Touchette: New Construction
August 19, 2017October 1, 2017
An exhibition of new paintings on canvas and paper by Ed Touchette offering a vision of a chaotic utopia inspired by architectural wonder and poetical imagination.
Ed Touchette: Lessons, Barns, and Other Structures
September 18, 2015October 18, 2015
An exhibition of paintings from an ongoing series which reveals and is an homage to influences from the artist’s earliest years as a student of art and architecture.
Past Group Exhibitions with Matthew Swift Gallery
New Series One
August 10, 2019October 7, 2019
The gallery introduces a new name, Matthew Swift Gallery, and a new exhibition format: a group exhibition of individual treasures.
Facing Five Years
January 17, 2019March 31, 2019
A program of exhibitions and events revisiting Trident Gallery’s first half-decade years and assaying the next.
Beyond Real: Contemporary Landscapes
August 15, 2015September 13, 2015
A group exhibition offering more than fifty paintings, drawings, photographs, and mixed media works in the genre of landscape, chosen to represent a diversity of artistic approaches.
Harbortown 2014
July 3, 2014July 27, 2014
An exhibition celebrating Gloucester Harbor and the area’s legacy of more than 150 years of excellence in the visual arts, displaying works of art by eighteen Cape Ann artists, including four guest artists, and introducing Gloucester artist Ed Touchette, now represented by Trident Gallery.