For this exhibition of Marion Wagschal, a body of recent (2008-2016) paintings and large-scale drawings have been selected. At the heart of the exhibition lies a monumental self-portrait entitled Colossus (2016). That work, as well as the overall exhibition, is primarily concerned with the permanent tensions between the forces of life and death. Wagschal’s aesthetics, which combine realism with tones of expressionism, are here expressed through a body of works that delves into the intimacy of the private domain, with all of the artist’s physical and conceptual monumentality. Themes such as the aging of the body, weariness of the soul, strength of life, dawn of death and fantastical childhood memories are explored by the artist in this exhibition. The result is a rich and diversified panorama that attests of the virtuosity of this exceptional Canadian painter.
Marion Wagschal (1951, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago) is a painter with a pronounced inclination towards empathetic figuration, albeit at times extreme. Throughout her remarkable career, she has refined a kind of realism that offers a new perspective on mythologies and allegories. Her work draws from diverse sources, from the Middle Ages to the contemporary era, with a marked penchant for the Romantic painters of the nineteenth century. Actualising their pictorial tradition, she embeds “in any genre or historical style, something that doesn’t belong—some irritation”. This irritation often takes the form of feminist commentary, and questions her own place as a painter in a predominantly masculine art history.
As part of the Painting and Drawing Department of the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University, where she held a position for 37 years, she developed an innovative seminar/workshop entitled Women and Painting. A member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, her work can be found in private and public collections, such as the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (Montreal, Quebec), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Montreal, Quebec), Hydro-Québec (Montreal, Quebec), Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (Quebec City, Quebec), Confederation Centre for the Arts (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island), Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, Ontario) and Plattsburgh State Art Museum (Plattsburgh, New York). Notable exhibitions include Femmes artistes. L’éclatement des frontières, 1965-2000 (2010) at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and Art et Féminisme (1982) at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. In 2014 and 2015, her work was the subject of a retrospective exhibition presented at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. I was also presented at the Gallery at Canada House, the High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom (London), in 2016. Marion Wagschal lives and works in Montreal.