Crosswords: Mallarmé, Molinari and Sophie Lanctôt

[Upcoming] June 6 to August 25, 2024

Curators: Gilles Daigneault and Monic Robillard

The visual and textual are hybridized in the exhibition Crosswords: Mallarmé, Molinari and Sophie Lanctôt. In her latest works, the artist Sophie Lanctôt has opened up her pictorial space to make room for the subtle presence of textuality. Her exploration of representation and the lyrical subject is particularly informed by the poetics of Stéphane Mallarmé, to whom she has dedicated a series of paintings presented here for the first time. 

Mallarmé was also a decisive influence for Guido Molinari, who was also a poet, but whose writing has remained little known to the general public. The visual artist considered Mallarmé to be the founding figure of abstraction. He devoted his latest project to him: a graphic transposition of Mallarmé’s visual poem “Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard” (1896), a seminal work of modernism. The painting series was the subject of a brief exhibition entitled Équivalence in 2003, a few months before Molinari’s death and the publication in 2004 of its reproduction in an art book by Éditions du passage.

Twenty years on, Sophie Lanctôt is rolling the dice again, creating her own pictorial response to Mallarmé’s great poem. In the process, she is continuing a conversation with Molinari, who helped to launch her career by inviting her to exhibit with him in 1994. Sophie Lanctôt’s wager is to surrender herself to the direct experience of the poem, so that the painting becomes a dynamic surface where facets of meaning can be freely activated and brought into play.

Conceived in a transhistorical perspective, Crosswords: Mallarmé, Molinari and Sophie Lanctôt unfolds at the intersection of words and images. Through its exploration of Sophie Lanctôt’s inspired and vibrant works, the exhibition sheds a light on rarely seen aspects of Molinari’s work and echoes Mallarmé’s poetic voice in a contemporary context. An event component will broaden this dialogue between painting and poetry.

– Gilles Daigneault and Monic Robillard

Artist biography

Sophie Lanctôt lives and works in Tiohtià:ke – Montréal. She studied at Concordia University, where she obtained a Master’s degree in painting. She has exhibited extensively in Montreal, Toronto and Spain.

She has received several grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and has carried out projects as part of the Politique d’intégration des arts à l’architecture. Her work can be found in public collections – including the Canada Council Art Bank, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec’s Prêt d’œuvres d’art collection, the City of Montreal, the Musée d’art de Rouyn-Noranda – and several private collections.

Sophie Lanctôt’s work is concerned with memory and transmission, with the expression of fragility and survival. In recent years, her practice has been expressed through painting, drawing and collage. In her exhibition Retracer l’invisible : Archives de l’image peinte (Maison de la culture du Plateau-Mont-Royal, 2018), the artist reappropriates fragments of art history to resonate with contemporary issues. In 2019, she will take part in the Baie-Saint-Paul International Symposium – Le temps et les choses, under the artistic direction of Sylvie Lacerte – with Variations Marguerite, a project based on family archives. In this proposal, excerpts from handwritten letters and drawings intertwine in a play with narrativity. Her latest solo exhibition, Pins, silhouettes, focuses on installation and series, around the motif of the tree, which evokes the memory of a childhood place between disappearance and remanence.

In her current work, quotational fragments are identified and recontextualized, opening up the space for reading. Through a particular interest in archives and words, Sophie Lanctôt’s pictorial approach is characterized by a dual process of erasure and resistance of the subject, in a tension between form and silence.

Image: Sophie Lanctôt, Les Roses (detail), 2021 Photo : Daniel Roussel and Guido Molinari, Rosevi (detail), 1995.