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élise lafontaine – make a circle sound like a new sun

rather secluded places where the cycle of light gradually changes the experience of space – like in ancient caves or cathedrals – are an investigative focus for élise lafontaine.

during her research visit to the south of france in 2017 the artist was allowed to spend one night in the prehistoric cave lombrives. she described her experience* during the stay as a dissolution of our experienced outer structures and defined scales of the environment. while relying on sound, she adapted to the darkness, feeling both overwhelmed and secure. the dimension of space, time and body became permeable, thereby liquefying her regular sense of “being”.

the absence of light in the cave changed her sense of outer form quite dramatically and consequently her paintings in this exhibition make a circle sound like a new sun gained an innate freedom of form. the biggest piece, lombrives, is mounted onto a cylindric object, while still presenting its natural shaping of an unmounted canvas. when passed by, small waves can be detected in the fabric. various circular shapes overlap and melt into each other, supporting the movement even further. in intervalle, three loose canvas parts are sewn together into a flat conical shape but creating a round shape in the middle. In thin layers of translucent paint and light, the artist creates ephemeral structures that seem to float in an intangible parallel setting.

as these works reach a more free form, another transformation can be observed: vault, 2022 trespasses the abstract language of architectural form and introduces figurative elements into the language of the artist. now – while exaggerating certain forms – mere architectural structures can also evolve into figures. 


in this sense, also the title of the show can be understood now: the encompassing circle, a geometric shape, morphs into a real entity, a new sun. 

*marmo gallery, desuetude press and élise lafontaine: ARCHIVES, published online 2022, p. 9


élise lafontaine (b. 1984) lives and works in montréal, canada and studied visual and media arts at concordia university and the university of quebec. she took part in several residencies in malévoz (CH), vermont studio center (US) and leipzig international art program (GE). solo shows include peau(x) de pièces at projet pangée gallery (2022) and her dress is a vault at nicolas robert (2020). Future collaborations will include a solo exhibition in open white gallery (GE) and centre clark (CA). she received numerous grants, the most recent being the canada council for the arts research and creation grant. currently she is in residency at atelier mondial (CH). the artist is represented by projet pangée gallery.

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