Oubli et reconnaissance (Commissaire: Mario Côté)

Annie Poulin, Cynthia Girard, Nicole Lebel

January 17 - February 14, 2004

Three painters of the emerging generation, whose approaches are very different, were brought together to highlight a rather paradoxical gesture, that of forgetfulness and recognition. Forgetting is here understood either as a threatening tension or as an appeasing of memory, whereas recognition is then identified as a precarious equilibrium in the face of erasure of traces. Forgetting is vulnerability, recognition becomes stability. Attention to this double phenomenon is posited as a hypothesis of reflection both in the act of painting and in the perception of forms.

Nicole Lebel approaches painting in a methodical way by placing small geometric marks on a horizontal or vertical line. With a stroke of the dice, the small shapes find their place and are enumerated on a surface of varnished wood. Each of the shapes has subtle hue variations, which produces a scrambling effect. The table is thus formed of several surfaces of different dimensions thus forming a set. Faced with the theatricality imposed by minimal art, Lebel offers rather medium format paintings. They thus form small chronicles of daily life, stories of the time that risk being veiled and forgotten by a hurried look.

The work of Annie Poulin finds some affinities with that of Nicole Lebel. His paintings assert themselves in a set: the triptych. Moreover, they are elaborated in a temporality: a simple brush stroke is systematically repeated on a free canvas surface in order to cover it completely. The fluidity of the brush, the fatigue and the loss of attention form basic elements of the work of the artist. And each section of the triptych functions as an enlargement of the first gesture. From one painting to another, the artist memorizes the gesture and intention revealed by this gesture. Then, control and mastery fade to make room for a new reality become more immediate, more recognizable.

The work of Cynthia Girard, whose solo exhibition at Miller / Geisler (New York) was highlighted in the latest edition of Art in America, is a break in the exhibition by introducing the figurative narrative that can easily be called documentary type. The gesture of the painter at work is here metaphorically suggested by the incessant path of the laborious ant. But this last meets an obstacle, it will have to cross a too narrow bridge which spans a river represented schematically by a double undulation. This symbol of the river painted in red contrasts sharply with a glacial green background. The painting thus brings into play, on the one hand, high chromatic effects in contrasts and, on the other hand, narration effects coming from the genre scene treated naively. Thus, the artist enjoys repeating the incongruities of perspectivist representation in animal painters in order to emphasize the details and the aberrations of realistic representation.

Commissioner: Mario Côté

Press release