Other Investigations: Magalie Guerin


More often than not, the work produced in my studio results in paintings. Recently though and consequential to an opportunity I’ll later describe, I’ve started to consider everything as part of my practice. Paintings, sketches, texts, snapshots, and ‘space itself’ are only a few of the mediums worthy of study. They each possess particular possibilities for expression.

The following images are thoughts, threads, documents, guiding lights and/or stepping-stones––

The word of the day for me is ‘conversation’. This gem of a movie by Louis Malle (1981) is basically that– a 110 min. tête-à-tête between two old friends at a table in a restaurant.

My friend Sean showed up one day with a book of Brancusi’s photographs and something happened to me… it introduced the term ‘generative practice’ to my vocabulary. Finishing a painting could, in fact, mean the beginning of something else. This followed––

A few months back, Seth Hunter and Brad Carter asked if I was interested in doing a second solo exhibition at their Lincoln Park gallery. My first reaction was that I would rather do a 3-person show. Seth came by the studio to discuss this–

“Explain to me: why is a 3-person show more interesting to you at this point than a solo?”

“Because I want the work to be part of a conversation.”

“Hmmm, I hear you– would you consider looking back in time, at your different bodies of work, and select various pieces that could engage in a dialogue– albeit one with yourself, about your practice?”

Why yes I would!

I’ve been making art since 1997 and to make a long story short, I began with photography, then moved to drawing (figurative then detail-oriented, surrealist and geometric) before turning to painting… I never intended to dismiss my previous work but once my wondering head would shift towards a new territory, it was difficult to find a context for the old. Until now.

So I thought of dinner parties– how the host chooses the guests– a wild mix of characters (in the most successful cases) brought together to stir up conversation.

From my archives, I pulled out a photograph from 2001, a ballpoint drawing of a cross pattern (2008), a text about Leonard Cohen from a writing project (2009), a fluorescent yellow painting titled “Last Photograph” (2010), two different paintings (smallest and biggest) from the same sketch (2011-2012) and the most recent– a graphite ‘painting’–– oh, and my kitchen table.

Everything is everything.

Space as medium. The text on the table was oriented to be read while facing the group of works on the wall. The intention was for the eyes of the viewer to travel back and forth (down on text, up on wall) and for the body to then move forward, move towards. The distance between the table and the wall allowed time to unfold while approaching the hung work.

I heard Leonard Cohen say, in a televised interview, that the kitchen table was his favorite location in a house because it’s where conversation happens. This short text I wrote about him in 2009 was printed as shown here and displayed on my kitchen table. I relate to Cohen’s wording style very much– I paint the way he writes. He is, without a doubt, the most important of my influences.