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Levitation, 2012. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 50.8 x 50.8 cm.

Fountain of Paint, 2011. Oil on canvas, 94 x 83.8 cm.

Secrets, 2011. Watercolour and oil on canvas, 152.4 x 213.4 cm.

Mélanie Rocan
Souvenir involontaire
November 7, 2012 - January 26, 2013

Curated by Ann MacDonald
Organized by the Doris McCarthy Gallery in partnership with the Kenderdine Art Gallery and Plug In ICA

Opening Reception: Wednesday, November 7, 5 - 9 pm
Artist's Talk at 7 pm
Free shuttle bus departs Paul Petro Contemporary Art (980 Queen St. W.) at 6 pm, returning at 9:30 pm

The visual world Mélanie Rocan creates with her paintings is a blended swirl of emotions and objects. Her art historical genealogy traverses many eras, from Surrealism to Expressionism, but perhaps she owes her greatest impulse to the Symbolist outgrowth of Romanticism. Enthralled by the inner material of the self, the Romantics preferred to view emotions as an implicitly valid approach to the world, and not secondary to analytic thought. Rocan’s imagery floats in the realm of the subconscious, with her dream-like, dream-dwelling subjects melding with environments both natural and cultural. The sense of nostalgia evoked by Rocan’s painted images—ferris wheels, gingham tablecloths, tire swings, floral wallpaper—speaks to memory and timelessness. These images are more about fleeting recollections than about the objects that define one’s social status.

Souvenir involontaire is a concept made prominent by Marcel Proust, and refers to ephemeral moments that arouse personal memories without deliberate, conscious effort. Rocan’s paintings offer the viewer opportunity to visit her dreamscapes and for the moment, leave the burden of conscious thought at the door.


Mélanie Rocan is a Manitoba-raised artist whose paintings sensitively explore fragile subconscious states. She has an MFA from the painting program at Concordia University (Montréal). A two-time semifinalist for the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, Rocan has exhibited at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Plug In ICA (Winnipeg), Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto), Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver) and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, as well as venues in Glasgow and Los Angeles. Rocan is represented by Paul Petro Contemporary Art (Toronto).

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