A few years ago, while painting at home and raising a young son, Frédérique Ulman-Gagné tried unsuccessfully to keep her art-work and her mom-work separate. Finally, she saw there was something to learn from her son’s uninhibited and spontaneous approach, and they began to work together. “Avec ma mere,” the 2010 CDEx exhibition, was the culmination of their collaboration. When her son enrolled in school Ulman-Gagné began painting in a studio, away from home. Her new body of work, Sans L’autre ou La Femme Atelier, up till September 1st at Les Territoires, developed from the artist’s look back on the previous situation, where art space overlapped with home, and the division between the role of mother and artist became blurry.
Sous un drap, Elle sort de la maison, and Le lit défait are a few of the series hung, parlor style, along the gallery’s white walls. Over thirty square frames of varying sizes bear abstractions of triangles, scale designs and line clusters. They are painted with rough, uneven brushstrokes in a wide range of colors. In some places, the layered oils and acrylics take on a thick, bumpy texture, and in others they are barely there, leaving patches of the wood or canvas base untouched.
In one striking piece, Il lance sa chemise sur le mur, different layers of red, yellow and pink peak from beneath thick, shiny shades of bright red. A flow of blue lines runs horizontally across the frame like a hail of bullets. If here the repeated motifs illustrate movement, not all the paintings have such vivacity. In Elle entre dans la maison I, an upside down red triangle hovers over an unstable background of blues. In more sedate works like this one, large details evoke a poignant intimacy.
Ulman-Gagné’s previous collaboration with her son in a home/work space is not represented in her non-narrative work, instead theses factors surface in the paintings themselves. Like a playful child, they are quick, bright and unruly. The artist links much of their repetitive, abstract motifs to the repetitive tasks of motherhood. In the end, her coarse, indefinite outlines establish a free and open tone for the entire show.
Les Territoires, space 527
Sans L’autre ou La femme-atelier
August 10-September 1st, 2012