Text by James D. Campbell
In her enigmatic new paintings, Magalie Comeau deconstructs the architecture of space itself, both inside and outside, not only to simulate its new tenses and tensions, but to reveal and highlight the tremulous private body that inhabits it. This painter, in so doing, elliptically touches upon the transit of that body through the social world, and the fugitive workings of memory and desire.
In her paintings, mysterious organic forms and fragments of architecture seem to emerge from the void as though locked behind unbreakable panes of glass. Their infiltration of or passage between other realities across seemingly infinite spaces echoes the way that memory has with things past and fleeting.
Certainly, Comeau’s space in painting is not just a geometric space, but a space of thought, memory, meditation — and manifestation.
The space is also then, of course, the privacy space, both hers and ours. It is also a painting space that is uniquely our own.
Her geometrical deconstruction of the spaces we inhabit sacralizes the human, and she attempts to show how human agents necessarily morph in order to survive in the face of the unknown. The perception of her work can induce a certain salutary vertigo, and she encourages us to assume a series of varying perspectives upon it. The paintings are never static – and they discourage any semblance of stasis in their presence.
The artist has said:
Je décortique la logique de l’espace afin que l’image fasse appel à un déplacement du corps et se transforme selon le point de vue où elle se donne. J’incite ainsi visuellement le spectateur à adopter plusieurs perspectives et échelles de proximité avec le tableau afin qu’il puisse faire une immersion dans l’environnement proposé et se confronter à une zone d’inconfort l’appelant à se réinventer des codes en relation avec l’image.
While, on one level, her passionate and unswerving deconstruction of the “logical space” opens up new avenues for her painting, her dimensional deconstruction of the space of memory and desire means new experiences for the sensitive viewer. Her invocation of phenomenological space and its interstices – the liminal spaces between – is handled in a haunting and convincingly deft manner. Her subversive use of geometry betrays an almost Buddhistic meditation on the dialectical relationship between human beings and the spaces they inhabit.
Comeau’s signature space is more about inhabitation than it is about evoking the volumetric space of architecture. While it often seems as though the vignettes in her paintings verge on or interface with some strange virtual reality, the truth is that they thematize a space for the lived body, and thus broach our relationship to the social world.
Arguably, Comeau is adding a new dimension to the illusionistic space of painting, while at the same time never losing sight of the quintessentially human. Hence, the title of her recent series: Matérialisation du signifiant.