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Join us for the second solo exhibition of works by Toronto based emerging artist Margaux Smith. Margaux Smith's paintings explore layers, excavating strata of both personal and collective cultural memory. Smith begins her paintings with a collage ground made up of magazines and books. These found images provide the background for densely textured oil paintings which Smith produces through a durational practice in which many layers of paint are applied, sanded or scraped away, and reapplied. This process of excavation leads to a gradual revelation of faces, bodies and interior spaces. The resulting paintings explore family and intimate relationships, composite portraits with multiple conflicting selves shifting on the surface. Through a process of gradual emergence, she locates herself in images that explore interdependence within social groups. This layering process draws attention to the way in which painting is, like the self, a mutable record of a temporal process rather than a fixed image of a point in time.

Instagram: @margauxlenore

Amaurosis, 2017. 36"x30" oil and collage on panel

Anchor 1
September 8-30,  2017 


Margaux Smith begins a painting by carefully composing a collage out of many sheets of paper. She pastes these arrangements onto the surface of a wood panel, and does an initial painting onto this rich surface. It is repainted, often with an entirely new image, and then covered again. This is repeated and repeated.


Along the way, Margaux uses an electric palm-sander to grind back into these heavily layered surfaces. She removes and reveals, showing both collaged under-images and raw materials. The picture becomes fragmented and rough. You see pieces of one image through another. Different scenes collide, confusing the space. She repaints, working back and forth, adding and subtracting.


Margaux continues to sand. Now, in the later stages of the painting, the process of sanding has become a way of healing the image, of evening it out. Scenes that shouldn’t work together begin to feel like they were meant to co-exist. Sanding calms the tension, softens the differences that have been introduced. The texture becomes an atmosphere, a haze that allows different elements into the same space.

There is a degree of randomness that has to be dealt with in these actions, a giving away of some control over the way the painting will develop. But chance is not without purpose here. The process is like an archeological dig. Margaux is uncovering the pieces that will enhance what is on the surface. The process creates new relationships among the mix of images that have come to be together. A deeper meaning is formed, nurtured and developed.


This work is certainly about time and about space. Moments collapse onto one another. The past has been covered and then excavated. What we see is like a geological formation. It shows us how the artist has been working, a window back into different stages of creation. Time seems to break down, a sense which is reinforced by a lack of any specific environments.  We rarely see architecture or perspectival cues in these paintings. There is a lack of specificity that helps the images to be unfixed in time, to be dreamlike.


What grabs the attention most in these paintings are the people. Figures are prominent in the work, though their identities are fluid. People are often composites, with pieces of other people overlaid. What seems to be of importance is the way that these figures relate to one another. We see their interactions, their gestures, how they hold their bodies when they are near to one another. The work is sensitive to body language, showing us how characters interact and how they enhance one another through their interactions.


We see tender moments and moments of discomfort. There are many images of friendship, of people caring for one another, supporting and relying on one another. These are moments where something is revealed about a relationship that has an emotional significance.


There are definitely parallels between the types of scenes that are shown in these works and the processes that are used to make them. There seems to be a sense that making meaningful images is like building relationships. It involves going through long periods of time, working to connect, pushing through conflicting points of view and even out differences. This is how important things are built.


Margaux’s paintings reconstruct the process of how meaning is constructed. Chance is embraced, and trust is placed in the ability of differences to come together. The work has the sense of something vaguely impossible and mysterious, while also feeling truthful and refreshingly optimistic. These paintings show us how a series of fleeting moments and partial representations can build together into something more than the sum of their fragmented parts.


1183 Dundas St. W.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada



Director: Wil Kucey

Gallery Manager: Vinna Ly 


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