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Abstract art that features a wide display of different colours such as blue, yellow and brown, alongside unique shapes.

Contrarieties & Counterpoints: Recent Paintings by Melanie Authier

Curated by

Robert Enright

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 worrying 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.

While Authier’s paintings invoke language that is associated with modernist abstraction, her approach has also been likened to baroque, for the empathic 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 her 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.

Text by Michelle Gewurtz


This exhibition has been organized and circulated 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.

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