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Ontario
Stephanie Vegh
Melanie Authier at Rodman Hall Art Centre in St. Catherines
January 07, 2014

From a distance, the twelve paintings in Melanie Authier's Grisailles deliver a sublime sweep of landscapes evocative of caves or arctic shipwrecks. While this may be the influence of the snowy grounds beyond Rodman Hall Art Centre, the desolation of winter chills this dimly lit gallery.



Melanie Authier, Face Eater, 2013, acrylic on canvas (photo: Stephanie Vegh)

Closer scrutiny yields an entirely different experience that deftly undermines any associations with landscape or representation of any sort. The atmospheric depths stirred at a distance flatten into planes without hierarchies where even bright colour hidden within the greys slip along an equal plane. What appeared as moody caves are gathering places for painterly intensity that push forward rather than recede before easing into muted expanses at the canvases' edges, leaving these forms unfettered to any literal or figurative roots. At other times, these clustered marks are not blended but broken by the edges of cold facets that defy Authier's otherwise lively hand.

Only the occasional striking tendril of a brushstroke, executed in the painting's final stages, claims any attempt at foreground and charges the darkness of Authier's grey palette with a blade of spring green, a shiver of aquamarine. In Face Eater, installed at a smart remove from the other paintings, red ribbons of brushstrokes infuse the canvas with an unconscious symbolism that blushes its whites and bloodies the feathered vortex at its centre. Alone of all the paintings in Grisailles, it flirts with the figuration that the others resist – an exception that exposes both that painting's remarkable nature and the vast accomplishments of the rest.


Rodman Hall Art Centre: http://www.brocku.ca/rodman-hall
Melanie Authier: Grisailles continues until March 16.


Stephanie Vegh is a Hamilton-based visual artist and writer whose criticism has appeared in Scotland's Map Magazine, Canadian Art, C Magazine, and Hamilton Arts & Letters, in addition to her own blog. Her drawings and installations have shown most recently at the upArt Contemporary Art Fair and Nathaniel Hughson Gallery in Hamilton. She is the Executive Director of the Hamilton Arts Council and a member of the Curatorial Committee for Hamilton's annual Supercrawl. She is also Akimblog's Hamilton correspondent and can be followed @Stephanie_Vegh on Twitter.

 

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