Caroline Mousseau

That Nagging Feeling

Art Gallery of Guelph, July 7 – Sept 4, 2020

Caroline Mousseau’s paintings are thoroughly about time, exploring the effects of slowness and repetitive effort to draw attention to the gendered history of painting, particularly abstract expressionism. Drying out her materials – oil paints – and building their density with wax, Mousseau’s compositions rely on this materiality to complicate the act of observation itself – slowed down through the physical and optical depths achieved. The forms generated are tentative, not solid, visual contradictions produced through delicate subtleties that infuse the interplay of texture and colour, background and foreground, figure and ground. Deeply invested in painting as a spatial and temporal practice, she proposes a feminist approach to abstraction as one based in the crafting of gestures.

That Nagging Feeling offers a series of simple forms that seem like enlarged versions of playful, casual drawings on monochromatic grounds. These paintings, however, are constructed through exhaustive processes of labour. What appear to be casually sketched ovoids are produced through successive small, singular marks that come together within what appear to be single painterly gestures. Deceivingly simple grounds emerge from a slow accumulation of layers with their shifts in brush stroke and pigment to reveal lingering afterimages – each with its own internal physics. Thinking beyond the surface to evoke a weight that is almost gravitational, Mousseau’s painterly gestures are hybrid forms that suggest alternative tropes of abstraction.

Photos by Toni Hafkenscheid