Sylvie Bouchard: Abracadabra

In the paintings of Sylvie Bouchard, a coherent analogy is drawn between art and magic, artist and sorcerer; but the magic is not in any sense that of a literally occult reality. Nor is art, or the artist, for her a person or agent possessed of superhuman abilities: rather, an elegant point about the nature of illusion and the psychological power of the uncanny can be found at the center of Bouchard’s work. It is both consoling and haunting to encounter the semi-invisibility of this, just as “real” magic tends to delight and disorient; knowing as we do that it does not defy the nature of reality: but, that yet it does point out that reality, as we think we know it, is only one aspect of the totality of the real. We must in fact be experiencing more than we know or realize, Bouchard implies. Art is reality and not a harmony parallel to it, as Cezanne put it, she seems to say to us.In Bouchard’s imagery, which in general is pervaded by a mystic and solemn mood, we re-encounter the characters we are likely to feel we already know, even though they are nameless and archetypal: her imagery conflates many periods of history and styles of art. Peering into her playful, but slightly menacing world, it is no accidental drama that we witness, nor is the mood at all quotidian or happenstance. We are both at home, and abroad here; at ease, and slightly outside of our comfort zone. We are very likely to realize, in the end, that art is, in her skillful and curious hands, a mode of knowledge as well as a means of acquiring it. Her current exhibition “Abracadabra” at Division Gallery begins another glimpse through the trees, and behind the curtain. Here we find the artist hard at work.

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