Marie-Claude Marquis presents her solo exhibition Dancing Contradictions

Exposing sincere messages on delicate materials

In her newest solo exhibition Dancing Contradictions, presented at Galerie Robertson Arès, Montreal-based multidisciplinary artist Marie-Claude Marquis showcases a collection of 97 vintage plates and eight velvet embroideries.

Everyone is experiencing the pandemic differently; it has proven to be the most unsure time of our lives, as the future remains uncertain. To that end, the series depicts the hardships and successes that the world has gone through during this period of time.

Marquis’ artistic practice revolves around porcelain plates and embroideries. She reuses objects to give them a second life. The vintage plates were objects Marquis recycled, giving them a new meaning. Also, every instance of writing was hand-painted or embroidered by herself.

Dancing Contradictions exposes fragility and strength as the pandemic has shown to be a rollercoaster ride of events and emotions.

The collection is set around the gallery. One wall is dedicated to Marquis’ velvet embroideries. Each piece has a different design and message inscribed. The messages are either written in French or in English, and feature familiar expressions that can easily be recognized. Marquis inserted curse words and Quebec expressions that one may hear once in a while, but also quotes that one may have read on the internet, such as in You’re overthinking again (1/3), (2021)

At times, some messages may sound cheesy; some may be funny and relatable. Some of them can also bring a sense of comfort as there are words that may reflect one’s state of mind, or may simply be words of encouragement. Still, they are honest and are there for the audience to engage with.

For the velvet embroideries, spectators can admire works such as Faut pas croire tout ce qu’on pense (3/3), (2021), Oh, baby baby it’s a fucking wild world (3/3), (2021), Focus on what you can control (3/3), (2021), and more. These velvet embroideries evoke a vintage aesthetic with the different prints and colours Marquis used in her work.

The embroideries are square shaped, inspired by silk squares, also known as silk scarves, that are mostly worn by women, and became popular during the post-war years. According to  Rampley & Co, a British clothing company, silk scarves became a symbol of glamour, power and independence during that time. Marquis incorporated the styles of silk scarves, as her embroideries are made with vivid and sharp patterns.

As for the vintage plates, they remind the audience of porcelain plates they may have in their homes, hidden in their kitchen cabinets as they are used less frequently.

It could be hard to pick your favourite vintage plate as they vary in shape, structure, pattern and colour. For example, Riding Dirty, (2021) is a plate depicting Off to School (1920), a painting made by Norman Rockwell. Lots of things happen for no reason at all, (2021) is a floral plate, like Osti de mélancolie, (2021)

Marquis has found a way to bring comfort, humour and honesty to her work. As there are many art pieces, it seems like there is a message for everyone. While there may be some straightforward words, compared to others that may sound softer, they can depict sentences one may not think out loud, or comforting words one needs to hear.

The pandemic brought uncertainty to everyone. It also brought change into our lives. With new hobbies, new life goals, and unexpected events, the pandemic allowed everyone to grow in a certain way. While Marquis’ main concern is the impact of isolation on mental health, she made sure to expose these expressions that people unconsciously carry with themselves.

Dancing Contradictions encourages spectators to engage with the artwork, express their feelings towards them and remind them that everyone is in the same boat. Hopefully, the exhibition can uplift some in these weird times.

Dancing Contradictions is on display at Galerie Robertson Arès, at 1490 Sherbrooke St. W, until March 27. The gallery is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m Monday to Saturday, and Sunday by appointment. Viewers can check out some of her art pieces here.


Photos courtesy of Galerie Robertson Arès.

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