Sophie Lanctôt, Mallarmé, Molinari: CROSSWORDS

June 6 – August 25, 2024

Curators: Gilles Daigneault and Monic Robillard

The visual and the textual hybridize in the exhibition Sophie Lanctôt, Mallarmé, Molinari: CROSSWORDS. In her recent work, artist Sophie Lanctôt opens up pictorial space to the subtle presence of textuality. Her questioning of representation and subject is particularly nourished by the poetics of Stéphane Mallarmé, to which she dedicates a series of paintings presented here for the first time.

Mallarmé was also of decisive importance to Guido Molinari, who was himself a poet whose writings have remained little known to the general public. Molinari saw Mallarmé as the founding figure of abstraction. In 2003, he dedicated his latest project to him exhibited at Galerie René Blouin: a visual transposition of Mallarmé’s typographic poem Un coup de Dés jamais n’abolira le Hasard (1897). The exhibition’s curating also uncovered a forgotten work by Molinari created from the same poem thirty years earlier: Continuum pour Mallarmé, presented for the first time since its exhibition in 1994 at AXENÉO-7.

In her turn, Sophie Lanctôt throws the dice again by creating her own pictorial response to Mallarmé’s great poem, with five oil paintings, including a double painting offering an immersive experience. In so doing, she continues a conversation with Molinari, who encouraged her early career by inviting her to exhibit with him in 1995. Sophie Lanctôt’s challenge is to bring out certain words and motifs that play on the many facets of meaning in Coup de dés. Other quotational pieces come in assonance with prose texts. Between the legible and the visible, the proposal is to offer a space of free association for the eye as it moves between the works.

Taking a transhistorical approach, Sophie Lanctôt, Mallarmé, Molinari: CROSSWORDS stands at the intersection of words and images. Around the inspired and vibrant work of artist Sophie Lanctôt, the exhibition sheds new light on some of Molinari’s works, and makes the Mallarméan voice resonate in its actuality.

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.

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Image: Sophie Lanctôt, Un coup de Dés 1 (Mallarmé) (detail), 2024. Photo: Maxim Morin.