Following her successful retrospective show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal last year, the Canada Gallery is currently presenting the Canadian artist Marion Wagschal’s first ever exhibition in the UK. Born in 1943 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Marion Wagschal immigrated to Canada in 1951 and completed her studies at Concordia University in Montreal, where she later taught for more than thirty years. As a painter, she adopted the portrait at a time when art history gave precedence to abstraction over figuration.
Marion Wagschal’s paintings created between 1980 and 2015 reflect the artist’s affinity for psychological portraits, the selected works are telling of her preferred subject: the feminine figure as a repository of stories both personal and universal. Wagschal has a pronounced inclination towards empathetic figuration, and an affinity with the work of James Ensor and Egon Schiele.
Throughout her remarkable career, she has refined a kind of realism that offers a new perspective on mythologies and allegories. Her work draws from diverse sources, from the Middle Ages to the contemporary era to Romantic painters of the nineteenth century. Her work often takes the form of feminist commentary, and questions her own place as a painter in a predominantly masculine art history.
Drawing anchors her work; her line is unremitting and confident. Like Alice Neel, Marlene Dumas, Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon, Wagschal shares a love of the raw, imperfect, and sometimes grotesque body.
Wagschal’s work in this exhibition celebrates an unadulterated beauty, inspired by the depiction of the female form in historical painting. The works illustrate a deep connection to life, old age, fragility, and fate that is not sad but powerful because it is wholly acknowledged.
The exhibition is curated by Marie-Eve Beaupré, Curator of Québécois and Canadian Art at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Daisy Desrosiers, Director of Battat Contemporary. This project is made in collaboration with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Marion Wagschal’s gallery, Battat Contemporary.
Photos: P C Robinson © Artlyst 2016