Quick Draw Artist Interviews are a series of interviews conducted by Otino Corsano using Facebook's IM Chat feature. Spontaneous conversations with international artists are recorded and documented specifically for publication on this blog.
Quick: faith. My crippling reply was not a threat. No one actually knows what takes place behind this wall. Not even me since I have no legs anymore. They were lost at the beginning of my disappearance. I left my fingers there; even the term phantom limb doesn’t apply to an absent torso. Still I’m floating; two circular orbs. Aqueous. Draw: art about art.
Melanie Authier (b. Montreal, QC) received a BFA from Concordia University, Montreal in 2002 and completed her MFA at the University of Guelph in 2006. Solo Exhibitions include Nobody's Geometry at the Faculty of Fine Arts (FOFA) Gallery at Concordia University in Montreal (2010) and Warrior Ridge at the Michael Gibson Gallery in London, ON (2010). Her most recent solo exhibition titled “The Ribbon and the Lightning Rod” was featured at Georgia Scherman Projects (2010/2011). Among numerous scholarships and awards, she is the recipient of the Honourable Mention Prize for the 9th Annual RBC Painting Competition 2007. Authier's artwork is in numerous national and international collections including the National Gallery of Canada.
Melanie Authier is represented by Georgia Scherman Projects and her latest solo exhibition “Jostling Pictorial Oppositions” opens this Thursday February 7 and runs until March 16, 2013.
She currently lives and maintains a studio in Ottawa.
Chat Conversation Start
"Accordian Flip", acrylic on canvas, 24" x 30", 2013
"Over Eons", acrylic on canvas, 56" x 66", 2013
"Skullex", acrylic on canvas, 60" x 72", 2012
Are these the new ones?
Yes. And there are several more!
Can you send them to my email?
Actually I got them.
If you have more though email would be best.
I sent you a couple more via e-mail...
Thanks. One sec while I save them.
O.k. Got'em. We're good.
Ready to start?
So I purposely did not conduct specific research in preparation for this interview.
I think my reasoning for this was based on my first experience of your work.
I first saw your painting at the 60P painting show organized by...
(gimme a sec...)
Scott Sawtell, in
You beat me to it.
Just trying to make your life easier...
You did get the date though.
Just barely. My memory is not what it used to be.
However my visual sense is still very acute.
Bringing me back to my main concept:
I think there is an immediacy in your work
I also think the work celebrates painting in a way unsynchronised with description in textual terms.
So I avoided research - I guess as wishing not to link with the textual at all.
Not sure if this is making sense since in fact I am typing.
Words as such.
Yes. I think what you are saying makes sense.
The aspect of this idea of immediacy plays out most importantly for me with regards to capturing a sense of energy in the paintings.
I also think I have formed a strong opinion about the work in advance.
So I am wondering if I have your permission to show all my cards
at the start
to see if you can verify or contradict my initial read.
So I want to begin by saying,
I hope you are o.k. with me referring to these works as siding more on the
non-representational or even non-objective side of the formal spectrum.
It just doesn't feel right for me to describe these as "Abstract".
Maybe I should explain why?
Seen 7:48 PM
I think I understand what you are getting at; nevertheless yes, it would probably be best if you explain where you are coming from.
My immediate sense of the work is it resides in the realm of painting and I guess I am simply not interested in discussing either indirect first sources or external pointers back to reality. Makes sense?
Awesome. How about I give you a chance to talk about my fav new work to be featured in your upcoming solo show at Georgia Sherman's?
Although I should mention that I have not emailed you all the images...
(I have to keep some things a surprise.)
You can send more if you wish; yet
“Accordian Flip”, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 24" x 30"
really gave me the same immediate sense of being overwhelmed
just as the first painting I viewed.
Melanie is typing...
“Accordian Flip” is an exciting one for me because I really challenged myself by restraining the palette I used.
I know. The low saturated vibe is definitely happening.
You know I have no idea how you create these.
And by that I mean:
They appear as visually flurries.
I once read an article in Vogue magazine in 2000 about an artist who paints snowflakes and links it to a religious world view since no two are unique.
I like that observation of visual flurries...
My new solo show is actually titled "Jostling Pictorial Oppositions"
***Sorry I meant "no 2 are alike" I'll fix it.
What is in opposition here Melanie?
It seems everything is in agreement.
Seen 7:58 PM
I think the work is about combining opposing visual elements (painterly facture) and allowing them to play out and evolve into the illusion of a seamless imaginary space.
I juggle a lot of formal concerns simultaneously.
The work presents a perpetual play between chaos and control, the synthetic and the organic and flatness and depth. A sense of disorientation comes about through the way in which colour, texture, line, shape and gesture compete for room within the canvas. Each work is submitted to a free-form improvisation drawing upon an expansive archive of expressionist and hard-edge histories. These heterogeneous forces mingle and co-exist in a dynamic exchange that stretches the limits of their points of reference. The goal of the work is to conjoin a disparate, contrasted array of painterly facture to create a disjunctive work, but eventually resolves itself into a convincing, if disorienting illusionism.
So yeah, there's formalism yet you have to admit all this melts with the overall effect the work generates. You mentioned a dynamic energy and I sense there is a vigorous aspect at the moment of physical construction moving well beyond any one formal element - let's say colour choice as an example.
Seen 8:02 PM
Yes. I agree.
Part of the reason that I work solely with acrylics is their fast drying time. They allow me to respond very quickly from one idea to the next. I can layer them quickly.
Also, I love pushing the material boundaries of acrylics while taking full advantage of acrylic mediums and the effects they can help create.
I'm also rightly accused of name-dropping as a way to link an aesthetic with a history. Yet sincerely, at this time I really can't easily think of a painter who paints similarly to you.
Like the only artist who I can think of is like Théodore Géricault;
yet this is more funny than any real link.
For example by using polymers and liquid retarder I can achieve effects that are often more characteristic of oil paint while still taking advantage of the hard edge capacity of acrylic paint.
Théodore Géricault makes sense though with the dramatic lighting and the sense of movement. I do understand why you would bring up that reference.
I am a fan of Henry Fuseli for similar reasons.
The negotiation of extremes: dark solidity meeting light-filled zones.
It is actually even more humorous to discuss acrylic applications since the illusion you create resides somewhere between cellophane, feathers, storm clouds and a Nanaimo bar strung all together with rhythmic gymnastic ribbons.
Yikes! That makes it sound an awful lot like pop art!
I think I just failed at my first rule not to attempt to describe the work with any real life associations.
Or rather proved how the works are so beyond the worldly.
Although I can't deny an inherent interest on my part with regards to Art History...
So how's Ottawa?
Are you looking forward to visiting Toronto?
Ottawa is good. I have a great studio space here. Martin and I are sharing a classroom in an old school: 860 sq ft., High ceilings...
Yes, I always look forward to visiting Toronto.
Ottawa also gives me more opportunity to visit Montreal as well.
I don't imagine residing in our country's Capital affects the context of your work?
No, nothing that I have consciously picked up on...
Yet your work was recently acquired by the National Gallery of Canada and featured in the current exhibition: "Builders: Canadian Biennial 2012" (Nov 2 2012 – Feb 18 2013).
Melanie is typing...
Yes. It has been a wonderful opportunity. In fact, they recently acquired a second work of mine as well.
Honestly Melanie for the first time in a while I really can't think of anything else to say in an interview. Except I am really looking forward to seeing the new work at Georgia's on Thursday evening.
I think it is a result of the way the work operates beyond the textual as mentioned previously.
Well, I am happy to answer any other questions you may have once you have had a chance to see the work in person.
I feel like Clement Greenberg.
Jpgs are very awkward...
They never adequately reflect the scale of the elements in the work.
Hah!Hah! (To the clement Greenberg comment)
I'm even slightly afraid.
See you soon Melanie.
Thanks so much for the interview Otino.
It was a lot of fun chatting with you.
This is my first experience of an interview over Facebook IM.
Have a good night.