Artist Statement

Cynthia Girard-Renard has created a multitudinous universe where politics, identity and imaginary worlds come together through painting, sculpture, installation, poetry and performance. Her broad range of techniques encompass various forms and take an experimental and theatrical approach to the exhibition context, such as large format works, banners, scenic backdrops, costumes and accessories, mobiles, sound sculptures, support structures, etc.

In this way, Girard-Renard defies the traditional categories of art by dismantling the niches these mediums normally occupy and resisting any hierarchy of styles. Her uncompromising repertoire draws as much from the visual language of art history (monochromes, Minimalism, hard-edge, Op art, Realism, Pointillism, Surrealism, Dada, Art Brut) as it does from modes of expression from 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. Within these paintings, the effect is the creation of hybrid spaces where normally unrelated realities are now juxtaposed, even interpenetrated, located somewhere between the abstract and the figurative. These composite spaces end up confounding the viewer’s perceptions by multiplying different points of view, illusionist renderings, sharp perspectives, or distorted scale.

Onto these complex pictorial constructions, Girard-Renard affixes a polyphonic narrative where any temporal coherence is denied. The sources that inspire her themes and motifs are many: the history and territory of Québec, feminist issues, historical figures such as revolutionary leaders, dictators, scientists, philosophers or authors, political slogans, student and environmental protests, animals, insects and fantastical creatures. Moreover, Girard-Renard favours artificial representations drawn from popular culture and a vibrant and saturated palette that help to register these socio-cultural references in sharp contrast to their familiar political weight. The resulting detachment tends to suggest a kind of fertile incongruity in her work that generates a tension between form and content.

Girard-Renard’s free thematic associations open up poetic spaces of reflection where humour 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. Girard-Renard thereby plays on a satirical note on usual hierarchies by imagining timeless worlds where animals, unicorns and great historical figures meet within imaginary constructions to discuss the future, utopia and freedom.


Cynthia Girard-Renard received her MFA from Goldsmiths College, London, UK (1998). For more than 20 years, she has been actively exhibiting in Canada and internationally, including: Thousand Plateaus Art Space, Chengdu, China (2011); Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina (2010); Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Québec (2010); September Gallery, Berlin (2009); Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2009); SPACE, London (2006), not to mention her solo exhibition, Fictions sylvestres, at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2005) and her participation in the 2008 Quebec Triennial. Recently she has had solo exhibitions at the Uma Certa Falta de Coerencia, Porto, Portugal (2015) and the Esker Foundation, Calgary, Alberta (2014).

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 residencies in London, Paris, New York and Berlin. Girard-Renard’s work is found in the collections of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Carleton University Art Gallery, the UQAM Gallery, the TD Bank as well as many private collections. Cynthia Girard-Renard is represented by Galerie Hugues Charbonneau in Montréal. The artist lives and works in Montréal.