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Janet Werner: Is Anything Alright?

September 19, 2009 - January 24, 2010

Edmond Odette Family Gallery, 3rd floor, Hatch Family Gallery, 3rd floor, Louis Odette Family Gallery, 3rd floor

In this exhibition Montreal artist Werner combines fictional characters with well-worn genres degraded by constant adaptation and reproduction. Pretty girls, kittens and puppies occupy awkward spaces in front of Wild West landscapes and alpine vistas culled from the artist’s extensive collection of 20th century ephemeral culture including fashion magazines, children’s books and greeting cards.

In contrast to her accomplished and direct application of paint and sophisticated use of colour and texture, this romantic subject matter appears blatantly cloying and disingenuous. A closer look suggests a discordant sense of psychological distance between the women she portrays, their clichéd feminine attributes and the constructed landscapes they inhabit. As in her earlier portraits the underlying subject of the work remains an experience of social isolation within gender-specific roles and normative values. The paintings evoke the social desirability of youthful beauty but also, in contrast, its inevitable loss and ultimate failure as a sustained strategy of personal identity.

Originally from Winnipeg where she was born in 1959, Werner received her BFA from the Maryland Institute in Baltimore and her MFA from Yale. Over the past 15 years she has exhibited widely across Canada and in Europe.

This exhibition will begin a national tour in 2010.


Janet Werner 03

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