Review: Jennifer Hornyak

Jennifer Hornyak’s melancholic figures haunt the McClure Gallery in Westmount

By Nadine Hennelly

May 14, 2015

Large canvases rendered with a muted palette, featuring figures that appear flat and seemly merged with their backgrounds… This is one of the main visual elements awaiting visitors to Jennifer Hornyak’s current exhibition at the McClure Gallery on Victoria Avenue.

Interestingly, none of her figures relate to each other in a confrontational, intimate manner, but are instead linked together by colour and clothing. There seems to be a searching sense of existentialism present in her work, with many of her figures looking away from the viewer, downwards or up to the sky. These canvasses are all contemplative, very quiet and lonely works, and the viewer can be easily moved by the sadness they convey. They are beautiful, but not in a pretty way. Instead, each figure has a sort of melancholic beauty that comes through in a different way. There’s a non narrative element as the background becomes the subject and the subject the background, which explains the relative flatness between both.

I felt a personal connection to these painted fragments of people, real or imagined. Most of the faces reflect a soft emotion, without much detail. The figures are rendered in settings where there is no sunshine, giving the impression that they are emerging at dusk or a cloudy day. The absence of bright colors lends the figures a certain weariness, which could be symbolic of maturity. An occasional flash of a vibrant red, or a stroke of cerulean blue, or the soft glowing green of a distant landscape jumps out against the muted palette bringing with it a youthful spirit seeking to be born.

The exhibition runs from May 1 to 23, at the McClure Gallery, 350 Victoria Avenue in Westmount.
Jennifer Hornyak is represented in Montreal by Galerie de Bellefeuille.

photo: Nadine Hennelly

Nadine Hennelly worked and lived all over the world. A former committee member of the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montreal, she was also on the Committees for the NYC Ballet, The Whitney Museum, The Bachelor’s Ball, Knock out and The Kitchen in New York City. She also contributed her creative talents to The Alzheimer’s Group, la Fondation Les Petits Rois, and Le Garde Manger pour Tous. She can be reached at

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