“My paintings bring together visual contradictions in one imaginary space. Each painting presents a brimming jostle of pictorial oppositions. The work presents a perpetual play between chaos and control, the synthetic and the organic, the technological and the natural, flatness and depth, the atmospheric and the geological… This re-combination of elements reveals aspects of the irrational and the evocation of unfathomable space.” – Melanie Authier.
The spatial effects of Melanie Authier’s abstract paintings show how artists can engage with the art of the past and transpose it into their own visual language. In her current works, Authier evokes abstract, formalist tendencies in painting that were current from the 1940s through the 1970s. Abstract, formalist painting gives priority to composition and the physical properties of paint. It is not about subject matter.
Authier comments that she does not work from source material; her work is embedded in abstraction. At the same time, she takes liberties with the rules of perspective governing the optical advancement and recession of colour and form. The rules of perspective are associated with representational painting. For an abstract painter to introduce such elements is surprising—it allows her paintings to suggest imaginary landscapes in which one might become lost.
Rather than drawing a line between formalist abstraction and representational painting, Authier situates her practice on a spectrum between the two. The artist was born in Montreal and lives in Ottawa, where she teaches painting at the University of Ottawa.
This exhibition has been organized by the Thames Art Gallery in partnership with the Ottawa Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Guelph, Kenderdine Art Gallery, Galerie de I’UQAM, MSVU Art Gallery, and the Musée régional de Rimouski with funding from the Ontario Arts Council’s Ontario, National and International Touring programs.