Cynthia Girard-Renard has been developing a multilayered work where political activism, identity issues and animal imaginary come together through a broad range of techniques. Hers is an experimental and theatrical approach to the exhibition context, such as large format paintings, banners, scenic backdrops, costumes and accessories, mobiles, sound sculptures, support structures, performance, and so on.
By defying the traditional categories of artistic mediums, Girard-Renard deconstructs hierarchies of styles. Her repertoire draws as much from the visual language of art history—from monochromes to Art Brut by way of Minimalism and Surrealism—as it does from modes of expression belonging to popular culture or the so-called “minor arts”—such as comics, children’s book illustrations, folk tales, decorative arts, feminine crafts, burlesque theatre, and satirical cartoons. Girard-Renard’s works therefore create often highly colourful hybrid spaces where distant realities are now juxtaposed, even interpenetrated, thus generating a viewing experience of perceptual and conceptual vertigo.
Denying any temporal coherence, Girard-Renard’s free thematic associations open up poetic spaces of reflection where satire and urgency briefly intertwine. A variety of ideas are considered, such as the ecological future of the planet, the precariousness of national or gender identities, the absurdity of austerity measures and more, all through imagining worlds where animals, unicorns and great historical figures meet to discuss the future, utopia and freedom.
Cynthia Girard-Renard received her MFA from Goldsmiths College, London, UK (1998). Major solo exhibitions of her work have been organized at Musée d’art de Joliette (2017), the Uma Certa Falta de Coerencia, Porto, Portugal (2015), Esker Foundation, Calgary, Alberta (2014), and Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2005).
The artist has been the recipient of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec to partake in artist residencies in London, Paris, New York and Berlin. In 2018 she was the recipient of the Prix-Louis-Comtois for a mid-career artist, as well as the Takao Tanabe Painting Prize awarded by the National Gallery of Canada.
Girard-Renard’s work is found in numerous institutional collections, such as Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Carleton University Art Gallery, Galerie de l’UQÀM, Banque Nationale du Canada and Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec. Cynthia Girard-Renard teaches at Concordia University, Montreal, where she lives and works.
The Artist Eye, solo, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
Unexplained Parade, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver
Fait main, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Quebec
Nos maîtres les fous, solo, Musée d’art de Joliette
La Main invisible, solo, Mclure Gallery, Montreal
Les Fleurs animales, L’Écart, Rouyn-Noranda
2017 Canadian Biennial, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
La revanche des Sans-culottes, Galerie Hugues Charbonneau, Montreal
Les Sans-culottes, A certain Lack of Coherence, solo, Porto, Portugal
Unicorns and Dictators, with guest artists David Altmejd, Julie Doucet, groupe d’action en cinéma Épopée, Henry Kleine and Noémie McComber, Esker Foundation, Calgary