Ginette Legaré: Alambics
Text by Andrea Valentine-Lewis
Ginette Legaré’s career has largely been concerned with the sensorial qualities of the materiality of everyday objects such as cups, ladles, hand drills, funnels, and faucets. These objects, often discarded by others, are found by the artist in various states of dereliction. During this process of recovering objects, Legaré considers their past existence, but even more, their potential moving forward in their renewed afterlife as art materials. Instead of transforming the objects entirely and visually removing them from their original context, Legaré performs subtle interventions that highlight their distinguishing forms, shapes, and textures while transforming them into distinctive and original assemblages. Although her sculptures are composed using a variety of dynamic materials, Legaré manages to execute designs that are lucid and elegantly understated.
Legaré’s work speaks to some of the pivotal work of the Surrealist movement of the early 20th century in that her found-object assemblages, though static, appear to be almost anthropomorphic and alive. This life-like quality can be observed in certain compositions that seem as though they are frozen still for a moment before resuming a task or gesture. For example, in Alambic/Still, Legaré composed a constructed tableau of a ladle pouring a thick metallic substance into a small cup. This play with fragmented time, however, does not rely on conditions of chance or coincidence, but rather Legaré meticulously stages the objects to look as though they are in motion at a specific moment but are clearly immobile. This conception lends itself to an almost-documentary style in that the conditions she has conceived are plausible but rendered impossible.
Among the other significant aspects of Legaré’s work is her use of space outside or exterior to her compositions. Her wall works are often installed in ways that consider the play of light, where oblong and distorted shadows become collaborating or central parts of the work. For instance, in Instruments of Culture, some of the shadows formed by certain angles of the deployed objects are more pronounced than the objects themselves. In other works, she enlists the angle where the floor meets the wall to partake in the creation of her assemblages. Overall, the artist’s play with space and scale explores the limits and agentic capacity of the human body, hinting to the eye, the hand and the mind of the viewer the processes that underlie the nature of work itself.