Doors Unhinged and Matchsticks



Atelier Circulaire Gallery
January 18 – March 2, 2024

January 18, from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Artist's personal tour
January 24, from 2 p.m. to 4p.m.

In the exhibition  Doors Unhinged and Matchsticks, Nancy Retallack-Lambert uses printmaking to create an installation comprised of both a variety of doors themselves and the printed copies of the doors.

Suspended in the gallery space, these doors unhinged have lost their prime function – it is not possible to go through them, and they defy definition. Only the tactile and visual qualities remain and are most apparent in the impressions on paper.

While not being an exercise in trompe-l’oeil, the prints made by rubbing capture the essence of the objects within their representations and the paper allows for a flattening of three-dimensionality and the possibility of showing both sides at the same time. Such dualities as inside/outside or the passage from one side to another, or worlds in opposition can be evoked, although the manner of exhibiting suggests a more conceptual reading of the objects.

This is a reproductible body of work and Retallack-Lambert proposes a miniature version in the form of the theme of a matchstick, wherein what is expressed is the paradox between an apparent exhaustive exploration of the object and the playfulness underlying the creative process.

That is, the matchstick theme is played out verbally, visually, and conceptually in Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Match, in the manner of statements used by conceptual art. This clue tells the viewer about the object in question, which in turn refers to the iconic installation One and Three Chairs (1965) de Joseph Kosuth, presenting a chair, its representation, and its definition. But here, rather than relying on the dictionary, Retallack-Lambert uses the text as free-form poetry, rendering an impression of absurd humour.

-Text by Marie-Pier Bocquet and translated into English by Nancy Retallack-Lambert


Biography and statement

Having completed studies at L’École-des-beaux-arts Montreal in both Graphic Arts and Pedagogy, the artist studied in the printmaking studios of Albert Dumouchel and Yves Gaucher and later practiced printmaking at GRAFF. She completed studies in philosophy/art-education at Concordia University with a masters’ and a doctoral degree. As an educator of teachers in the arts, she worked for thirty years at l’Université de Montréal as a professor. Winner of first prize BIAM 2012, a prize at Galerie Presse Papier and the prize of Télé-Québec BIECTR 2013 as well as the prize Galerie Piroir BIECTR 2013, she had an exhibition of 123 etchings at the Maison de la Culture Mercier, 2015. At the moment, she practices printmaking and painting at her studio in St-Armand.

Figuration is at the centre of her art production and the means she use to tell something about her link to the world of appearances varies with the situation. However, for the past twenty years, printmaking in several forms has been her privileged means of expression. Images come to life for her in the techniques of copper etching, wood engraving, woodcuts, and in monotype. She always choose to elaborate on the wonderful things of our world (ex. birds, trees, buildings) as well as the way the human figure fits into the world and changes it. Artists’ books often figure in her
production. Her art has always been a sort of documentation of lived experience, of the way the outside world impinges on her inner world and since the traditional process of completing a print is long and complex, she makes sketches, drawings and, more and more often, photographic traces of the most exceptional moments. These moments, being visible, enable her to reformulate the universe, every print giving form to a moment of her time complete with the randomness of experience, each work having a multitude of meanings latent and explicit.

In this exhibition, it was a group of doors destined for the trash heap as well as the residue of an attempt to light the heater in her studio which provided her with the starting points for explorations into two new worlds. The homeliness and rigidity of the doors and the total insignificance of the spent matches were not noticed by her gaze. Their presences offered her, once again, the opportunity to participate in the phenomenon of change in time and space. That is, the emotion which makes her want to stop time by doing printmaking is sometimes crystallized in what she makes. While the evanescence of clear moments of being has to be accepted, the relative permanence of a print cannot be questioned.