Organized and circulated by McMichael Canadian Art Collection
Guest Curated by Jessica Bradley
Margaux Williamson is a painter who also writes and makes videos. Her community includes writers, artists, and musicians with whom she has collaborated, notably on her 2008 feature-length video, Teenager Hamlet, which captures the existential questioning and curiosity of young urban friends thinking through their experience of the world. She has also made performances and published movie reviews. Within this multifaceted practice, Williamson’s painting has evolved through long rhythms; her bodies of work are produced over years interspersed with pauses, often for as many years. Writing has been a constant companion, and though writing and painting offer parallel paths to meaning, for her they are neither interchangeable nor ultimately substitutes for each other. Rather, writing accompanies her image making, offering another place for reflection and inspiration.
During those interludes when she is not painting, Williamson builds files the way a writer might, with phrases, lists, and dream fragments written on scraps of paper. To these text sketches, as she calls them, she adds photographs, pictures torn from magazines, illustrations of artworks from various periods, and drawings. These ephemera, as impermanent as thoughts that come and go, await an undetermined future as they accumulate. Indeed, pages with notes appear everywhere in her recent paintings, taped to walls and stacked on tables, as if to acknowledge another way of understanding and being in the world. A painting may emerge from such collected thoughts as readily as from photographs of light in a room or the items on her tables.
Williamson has said that painting can be a place to consider what is real and what has value. Such consideration leads her to make images unconstrained by the dictates of a preconceived composition and instead to build progressively with details that stay in the mind. In her studio, an unobtrusive garage behind her house on a downtown Toronto side street, Williamson yields to the slow process demanded by large oil paintings, constructing images that, like thoughts, unfold organically. The interiors that have become a dominant theme in her recent work are both literal spaces, somewhere comfortably familiar, and places of imaginative interiority where her inanimate subjects are brought under the spell of her anarchic treatment of space.
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