Melanie Authier. Contrarieties & Counterpoints

Exhibition organized and circulated by Thames Art Gallery (Chatham, Ontario)

Curator: Robert Enright

Artist: Melanie Authier

October 24, 2017 - December 9, 2017

Opening: October 23, 2017, 5:30 pm

Galerie de l’UQAM dives into the lively energy of painting with the solo exhibition Melanie Authier. Contrarieties & Counterpoints. Led by curator and art critic Robert Enright, the exhibition brings together recent works by the artist that Galerie de l’UQAM’s public was able to discover in the flagship exhibition The Painting Project (2013). With Contrarieties & Counterpoints, the artist shows paintings that are both dynamic and delicate, while revisiting the contradictory legacies of pictorial practice.

The exhibition

The visually rich spaces in 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 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 the contrasting approaches to contemporary painting that are being deployed by the artist. With each work, Authier sets up a problem so that she can “produce a response to it that is unexpected.”

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 at painting’s potential. So my preoccupying question is, “Where do we go from here?”

– Melanie Authier, 2015

Gendered readings of painterly practices, for example, are part of the complex discourses that Authier is acutely aware she must negotiate. This artist also plays with competing histories of style—hard-edge and gestural abstraction—and subverts them as expertly as she manipulates acrylics or watercolours and inks 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.

The artist

Melanie Authier was born in 1980 in Montréal. She received a BFA from Concordia University, Montréal (2002) and an MFA from the University of Guelph (2006). Authier has exhibited across the country, notably in the exhibition Builders: Canadian Biennialat the National Gallery of Canada. She presented several solo exhibitions, including Grisailles at Rodman Hall Art Centre, Brock University (St. Catharines, 2013–14), Vault/Shield/Buttress/Basin at the Anna Leonowens Gallery (Halifax, 2013) and Jostling Pictorial Oppositions at Georgia Scherman Projects (Toronto, 2013).  Her work was also part of many group shows such as The Tremendous Elusive: Emily Carr and the Canadian Imagery at Canada Gallery, Canada House (London, United Kingdom, 2016), Young Canadian Painters at Idea Exchange (Cambridge, 2014), The Painting Project. A Snapshot of Painting in Canada at Galerie de l’UQAM (Montréal, 2013), and Four Ottawa Painters at Carleton University Art Gallery (Ottawa, 2010–11). Authier is also the recipient of numerous scholarships and distinctions, such as the Honourable Mention Prize for the 2007 RBC Painting Competition. Authier’s artwork is part of several national and international collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, Canada House and Global Affairs Canada. She is represented by Georgia Scherman Projects, Toronto.  She currently lives in Val-des-Monts (Québec).

The curator

Robert Enright is an award-winning writer, lecturer and curator. Since 2004 he has taught in the Graduate Program in the School of Fine Art and Music at the University of Guelph, where he is the University Research Professor in Art Theory and Criticism. He has over 35 years of experience as a cultural journalist in print, radio and television. For that entire period, he has been associated with the arts magazine Border Crossings, where he has published over 200 interviews with leading Canadian, American and European artists. In 2005 he was made a Member of the Order of Canada, and in 2012 he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2016 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Winnipeg.

Support provided by

This exhibition has been organized by the Thames Art Gallery (Chatham, Ontario) in partnership with the Ottawa Art Gallery (Ottawa, Ontario), Art Gallery of Guelph (Guelph, Ontario), Kenderdine Art Gallery (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Galerie de I’UQAM (Montréal, Québec), 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.