Critics’ Picks

Magalie Guérin, Untitled (res 10.1), 2020, oil on canvas on panel, 20 x 16''.

Magalie Guérin, Untitled (res 10.1), 2020, oil on canvas on panel, 20 x 16''.


Magalie Guérin

Amanda Wilkinson Gallery
18 Brewer Street 1st Floor
July 1–August 8, 2020

Magalie Guérin’s eight small-scale abstract oil paintings are inspired by real objects in the material world and offer the fun—and the trouble—of crowds. The Montreal-born, Chicago-based painter’s supple forms, too industrial for biomorphs yet too yielding for machines, jostle for space and attention in “q p,” the artist’s first solo show at Amanda Wilkinson Gallery. Gesso elements in low relief, little more than crinkles, accompany the painted objects, gently raising the possibility of extra dimensions.

Untitled (res 9.1) (all works 2020) and Untitled (res 9.2) mirror each other symmetrically—as q reflects p in the show’s title—though variations in the saturation and shape of the forms gradually become palpable, beckoning the viewer into games of “spot the difference.” Warm browns and oranges are reflected as frosty, haunting grays, and vice versa. Quasi-organic mutations and evolutions are set off against repetitive processes at their most mechanical and standardized: horizontal corrugations in Untitled (res 9.1) and Untitled (res 9.2) or, in Untitled (res 8.2), matrices of minute embossed rectangles. Untitled (res 10.1) harbors a confident structure of concentric pink, orange, and blue bands, which is missing in Untitled (res 10.2), its partner. In its stead looms a ghostly form, semitransparent and outlined in lime green.

In practices of doubling Guérin finds intensified opportunities for surprise. Forms in one painting return as uncanny apparitions in another, shrouded and transformed, lurking beneath layers of paint: Untitled (res 8.1) contains the barely traceable shadow of the pound sign in Untitled (res 8.2). Demanding and pleasingly mischievous, these works disturb temporal and spatial polarities—before and after, figure and ground, original and copy—and offer unbuffered experiences of looking without resolution.