Sylvie Bouchard : Polarités

16 September - 22 October 2022

McBride Contemporain is delighted to announce Polarités, the first solo exhibition at the gallery by Montreal artist Sylvie Bouchard. An aura of theatricality pervades the space of these paintings, highlighting our propensity to question the difference between reality and its representation, the real and the fictional. Bouchard creates an imaginary cosmos in miniature, that unfolds and exists on isolated beaches or plateaus, landscapes emptied of humans, but betraying their conspicuous absence, their “having been there”. They are no longer present, but their artifacts and archival things are scattered around this dreamscape. These oneiric settings recall the feeling and circumstances of classic surrealism. But they are also injected with a strong dose of formalist painterly concerns, of a very particular and personalized type, into the matrix of their expression, their existence.


So if this is a dream, in which the potent symbols of the unconscious are scattered around for our perusal, interpretation, and ultimate enlightenment, then at the least, we are beckoned just as greatly to take into account how the visual dynamics of a picture are created, fashioned, and deployed. Bouchard slowly builds up a surface that is as coolly beautiful and expertly finished as it is emotionally invested and lovingly visualized. Her work asks the viewer to look beyond the seductive plains of paint and space she has devised. The polarities she speaks of are overtly those of the real and the unreal, the present and the absent, the theatrical and the literal. By juxtaposing these poles of our experience, she has found that the binaries break down and become translucent, just like the painterly space she has delineated with her brush. These polarities grant us a framework of understanding, and then they sweep it away, like the uncertainty of half waking up from a dream.


Sylvie Bouchard lives and works in her home town of Montreal. She studied visual arts at the University of Ottawa and has been an active painter in Montreal since the early 1980s. Her work has been presented in institutional exhibitions, including a retrospective show at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and solos at the Musée régional de Rimouski and the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge. She has taken part in exhibitions across Canada and abroad, among them at Occurrence, Galerie McClure, Galerie Chantal Boulanger, Leo Kamen Gallery, Contemporary Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario, Oboro, Galerie d’art de l’Université de Sherbrooke, and Galerie Division. Her work is represented in numerous public collections, including those of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the Musée régional de Rimouski, the National Bank of Canada, the Royal Bank of Canada, the Canada Council Art Bank, as well as in numerous private collections.

Installation Views