Contrarieties & Counterpoints
May 12 - August 19, 2017
College Art Galleries
Guest curated by Robert Enright
Text by: Michelle Gewurtz (Ottawa Art Gallery)
Circulated by Thames Art Gallery.
I believe my work references and, at times, wrestles with the after-burn of painting’s past, art history with a capital “A.” It also works to carve out a space for itself in current dialogues and continues to look ahead at painting’s potential. So my preoccupying question is, “Where do we go from here?”
- Melanie Authier (2015)
The visually rich spaces in Ottawa artist Melanie Authier’s paintings remind us that we are still negotiating a myriad of questions when we consider art after Modernism. For Authier, paintings are not simply discrete aesthetic objects. They exist within an expanded set of relations.
Authier’s paintings invoke language that is associated with High Modernist Abstraction. Her approach has also been likened to Baroque, for the empathetic effects elicited by her technique. The intermingling of styles in each painting engenders a liminal quality that is at once intelligible yet elusive. In this exhibition of recent work on canvas and paper, we can appreciate that contrasting approaches to contemporary painting are being deployed. With each work, Authier sets up a problem so that she can “produce a response to it that is unexpected.”
This artist plays with competing histories of style—hard-edge and gestural abstraction—and subverts them as expertly as she manipulates acrylics upon her surface of choice. The challenges posed by freighted histories of painterly practice are ones that Authier addresses head on and with a flourish.
This exhibition has been organized by the Thames Art Gallery in partnership with the Ottawa Art Gallery (Ottawa, Ontario), Art Gallery of Guelph (Guelph, Ontario), Kenderdine Art Gallery (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Galerie de I’UQAM (Montreal, Quebec), MSVU Art Gallery (Halifax, Nova Scotia), and the Musée régional de Rimouski (Rimouski, Quebec) with funding from the Ontario Arts Council’s Ontario, National and International Touring programs.
About the Artist
Melanie Authier was born in 1980 in Montreal. She received a BFA from Concordia University, Montreal (2002) and an MFA from the University of Guelph (2006). Authier has exhibited across the country and was recently included in the exhibition Builders: Canadian Biennial at the National Gallery of Canada. Solo exhibitions include Grisailles at Rodman Hall Art Centre, Brock University in St. Catharines (2013–14); Vault/Shield/Buttress/Basin at the Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax (2013); and Jostling Pictorial Oppositions at Georgia Scherman Projects in Toronto (2013).
Recent group shows include Young Canadian Painters at Idea Exchange – Queen’s Square in Cambridge (2014), The Painting Project at Galerie de l’UQAM, Université du Québec à Montréal in Montreal (2013), and Four Ottawa Painters at Carleton University Art Gallery (CUAG) in Ottawa (2010–11). Authier’s work has garnered critical attention from James D. Campbell, Robert Enright, Leah Sandals, Jonathan Shaughnessy, and R.M. Vaughan, among others. She is the also the recipient of numerous scholarships and distinctions, such as the Honourable Mention Prize for the 2007 RBC Painting Competition. Authier's artwork is in several national and international collections, including the National Gallery of Canada. Authier is represented by Georgia Scherman Projects, Toronto. She currently lives and maintains a studio in Ottawa.