I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination. The soundest fact may fail or prevail in the style of its telling: like that singular organic jewel of our seas, which grows brighter as one woman wears it and, worn by another, dulls and goes to dust. Facts are no more solid, coherent, round and real than pearls are. But both are sensitive. Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969
Projet Pangée is delighted to present But both are sensitive, an exhibition instigating a dialogue between the sculptural work of Jennifer Rose Sciarrino and the drawing practice of Marion Wagschal. This presentation strives to emphasize the aesthetic and conceptual affinities that connect two artists from different generations and distinct formal allegiances. Here, both Sciarrino and Wagschal depict life’s peculiar instances – where reality seems to collapse; where life feels stranger than fiction. While the first devotes her attention to a world invisible to the naked eye, magnifying the surreal attributes of microscopic organisms, the second juxtaposes historical and autobiographical elements, giving shape to a sublimated, quasi-mythological form of femininity. Perceptively, this rendezvous between the two artists reveal their common embrace of a fantastical yet sensitive realism.
Large blown glass ellipsoids, modeled by Sciarrino to replicate minuscule pollen seeds, are dispersed along the walls and gathered in the corners as if the wind had carried them there. Promising a strange blooming season, the generous curves of these curious biological formations suggest a botanical science-fiction that reverberates in the space, as two diaphanous alabaster figures appear animate atop contorted steel stems. This sculptural duo, representing an enlarged fungi spore and yeast cluster, exposes itself as an intimate encounter, a meeting between two crystalized bodies. Reaching towards each other in a brief moment of expectation, they inevitably invite speculation. Under Sciarrino’s hand, the fragility of glass and the softness of alabaster are the expression of a poetic materialism that finds echoes in Wagschal’s evanescent yet powerful drawings. Under washes of watercolour and elusive clouds of charcoal and chalk, singular imagery unfolds in dreamlike scenes. Like an apparition revealing itself to the daydreamer, characters from history, myths, or the confines of childhood imagination slowly emerge. Their untouchable nature soon fades as Wagschal’s delicate, assured lines re-imagine and humanize these larger-than-life women – alternatively baring or adorning them – to create a playful fiction that intrigues and delights. While beholden to invention, these feminine figures nevertheless outline the portrait of a femininity that is both powerful and vulnerable. A pair of intimate self-portraits, in which the artist appears suddenly doubled, embodies this femininity with a defiant poise that is amplified by the eerie composition of these vaporous drawings.
(text by Béatrice Cloutier-Trépanier)
Jennifer Rose Sciarrino is a Toronto based artist working in sculpture, video and installation. Her work considers our cause/effect relationship with the living world as well as the underlying entanglement of the micro and macro within nature and technology. Sciarrino has exhibited her work in the group exhibitionsTalking Back, Otherwise at the Jackman Humanities Institute, Toronto; rans/FORM at The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto;To What Does This Sweet Cold Earth Belong? at The Power Plant, Toronto; and in solo exhibitions, Cloak at 811 Gallery, Toronto, Thrummer at Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto and Ruffled Follicles and a Tangled Tongue at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge. In 2013, Sciarrino was a winner of the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts’ Artist Prize. She is represented by Daniel Faria Gallery.
Marion Wagschal is a painter with a pronounced inclination towards empathetic figuration. 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. She has had solo exhibitions presented at the Gallery at Canada House, the High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom (London) in 2016 and at the Musée de Joliette in 2017. Marion Wagschal lives and works in Montreal.