Writing in painting

Sylvain Bouthillette

Writing in painting
Curated by Rafael Sottolichio

The painters gathered for the exhibition Writing in painting offer personal explorations on the nature of producing meaning. Each chosen work examines a specific way of reading the picture: to read what is written on the picture. The painters handle a vast number of signs that can be freely interpreted by the public. The subject depicted, the material, the color, the composition, the canvas, certainly its very dimensions, are the principal guidelines that serve to “read” a painting. Letters and writing are also part of these signs.

The medium of painting, with its history and the principles of its language, offers here an interesting counterpart to the semantic games accomplished by these artists. Whether the meaning is expressed through the form of a sentence as in the work of Sylvain Bouthillette and Martin Bureau, convened in a single word, like the words of Monique Régimbald-Zeiber, encoded in an intellectual process as in the work of Marie-Claude Bouthillier or Mario Côté, language and writing can never totally ignore linguistic rules. Despite expectations and the assumption that painting is generally associated with an intuitive and expressive process, and despite the criticism that the presence of writing may provoke, one fact remains: its use invites the notion of arbitrariness that serves to convolute our reading of the work. In this way, the signs in the work of Francine Simonin seem just as charged with hidden meaning as the images and words in the work of Thierry Arcand-Bossé. The graphic signs that compose the painting and writing are the elements of a game elaborated by the artists. It is a mysterious game that is experienced in the contradictory intimacy of the work, a game that uses language to create equivocal meaning. The viewer/reader enters, given this mystery and through this perspective, since ultimately it is he who interprets the meaning of the words. Nevertheless, the meaning always remains peripheral to the experience.