February 25 – April 11, 2015
Another perfect day
Works by Janet WernerCurated by Kent Archer
Another perfect day is an overview of Janet Werner’s production over the past five years. The paintings signal an ongoing engagement with the historically established practice of portraiture but one that is ultimately rerouted and subverted. In Werner’s paintings, the canons of beauty and likeness that attend conventional portraiture are abandoned in favor of deeply internalized, subjective and renegade purposes. Werner’s portraits, even when sourced from high fashion images manifest unconventional beauty, turning the portrayed figures into specters that defy anatomical accuracy. The paintings are rife with physical mutations and set up complex psychological conditions; they lean towards the irrational but reveal a kind of deviant logic. For Werner, the process of painting is a way of investigating the iconic power of the image, invoking imagination, memory and projection to invest nameless figures with human (sometimes monstrous) character and a disturbing array of emotions. The final paintings are composite fictional portraits that retain aspects of the original source while embodying notions of transformation, desire, innocence, loss and defiance.
In Werner’s most recent paintings an argument has erupted between beauty and the grotesque where the figure itself has become the site of contest. Folded, cut, occluded, or altered, with color ranging from luminous to ashen, and scale shifting from pixie to giant, the figures possess an otherworldly aspect. There is a subtle suggestion of alchemy or witchcraft in these portraits, though it is not clear if these beings are the ones casting spells or the ones upon whom the spells are cast.
About the Artist
Janet Werner was born in Winnipeg and lives and works in Montreal where she teaches at Concordia University. She holds an MFA from Yale University and a BFA from the Maryland Institute. Her work has been exhibited across Canada including solo shows at the Art Gallery of Windsor, SBC Gallery, Montreal, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Ottawa Art Gallery and Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg. Internationally her work was recently shown in solo presentations in Cape Town, South Africa and Cologne, Germany. Her work was included in the survey exhibition Oh, Canada, at Mass MoCa in North Adams, Mass and in The Painting Project at Galerie de l’UQAM in the Spring 2013. Werner’s work is in numerous public and corporate and is represented by Parisian Laundry, Montreal, and Birch Contemporary, Toronto.
The exhibition tour has been made possible through the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and Saskatchewan Arts Board.