Mélanie Rocan, "Table pleine de peinture / Table Full of Paint", 2015
Mélanie Rocan, "Table pleine de peinture / Table Full of Paint", 2015, oil on canvas, 14" x 18"
Much contemporary life is lived with anxiety, or worse, a looming sense of impending disaster. Whether it’s global cataclysm, or Western Canada’s own summer of fire and drought, disaster can create emotional cycles of despair and denial. Little wonder, then, that so many artists are exploring the theme.
But Franco-Manitoban artist Mélanie Rocan, with her show this fall, Beaux Désastres, or beautiful disasters, seeks balance. She creates shimmering light amidst even her darkest works, typically richly textured and intensely busy surfaces that mix figuration and abstraction to explore fragility and the subconscious. “There’s devastation,” she says. “Yet it still looks so beautiful.”
Rocan has been painting seriously for the decade or so since she graduated with a Master’s degree in fine arts from Concordia University in Montreal. She’s had notable success with exhibitions, showing internationally and in prominent Canadian galleries, including the Power Plant in Toronto and the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver.
She talks like someone who’s had a lifelong love affair: “I’ve been around paint so much, it’s a part of me.” And her affection for lush impasto seems boundless. “I’m so attracted by the look of the paint itself and how it oozes. So some of these newer works are going along thicker.” Indeed, of her recent paintings, Table pleine de peinture, or Table Full of Paint, shows a figure, presumably the artist, sitting at a table, hidden beneath a tablecloth that’s laden with paint. It’s a beautiful metaphor – art as a singular feast at a private banquet, and painting as the fabric of life.
Mélanie Rocan is represented by the Actual Gallery in Winnipeg. Her exhibition, Beaux Désastres, runs Sept. 4 to Oct. 31. Her work sells for $900 to $8,000.