Magalie Guérin at Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

May 26, 2023

EXHIBITION | New York | Sikkema Jenkins & Co. is pleased to present some mondegreens, a solo exhibition of paintings by Magalie Guérin. This is Guérin’s first presentation at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., and will be on view June 8 through July 28.

The title of the exhibition refers to the phonological concept of the mondegreen: an instance of aural misinterpretation, such as a misheard line of lyrics, that gives the words or phrases new meanings. Fundamentally, mondegreens arise from the human mind’s own desire for comprehension, enacting a process through which the unfamiliar becomes recognized, signified, and assimilated into one’s understanding of the world. Guérin is interested in this framework and its semiotic implications; the paintings in some mondegreens ask us to consider the creation of narratives, systems of internal logic, and the space between perception and the making of meaning. 

The figure/ground relationship is foundational to Guérin's compositional approach, and a generative source of unexpected pictorial interactions. Limb-like channels of paint sweep against palpably molded striations and low-relief surfaces. Geometric patterns unfold and situate themselves amongst sensorial congregations of color: rustling greens, steely grays, desert beiges, and vivid oranges. What distinguishes a brushstroke, a space of color, a ridge of built-up medium from each other calls for an openness to shifting visual interpretations. It is ideas of narrative and continuity, rather than any specific system of abstraction or representation, that serve as a guiding focus in Guérin’s work. She describes a “pre-history” of texture, the layer upon which painted fabula shift, divide, and connect. From there, each painting develops its self-contained sequence of logic, a morphological trajectory being perpetually molded.

This sense of cultivated interiority within each work becomes mirrored by the external, subjective experience of encountering it. Guérin’s mid-size canvases roughly correspond to the level and dimension of a human torso, emphasizing the viewing subject’s physical and psychological proximity to the work. Any and all associations, memories, references, and sensory impressions avail themselves to the viewer, interpreting the painting free of any definitive mimetic boundaries. The initial encounter of an unfamiliar image becomes a channel of recognition, constructing a narrative of individual meaning as forms, spaces, textures, and colors are made known once more. 

some mondegreens
June 8–July 28, 2023