The Smile At the Bottom of the Leader (Le sourire au bas de l'échelle) – Shary Boyle


Shary Boyle is an internationally renowned artist who represented Canada in the Venice Biennale in 2013. She spent two years working on this exhibition which aims to examine what it means to live a life dedicated to making art. According to the artist, a life creating art is a fundamentally different experience from a life looking at, thinking about, speculating on, buying, curating, consuming, reading about, or writing about art.

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 Shary Boyle develops and claims a visual language to describe what it has felt like to be an artist, to be a woman, and to live in her time. The thought process behind the drawings and sculptures in this exhibition was inspired in part by literary and film classics such as Marcel Carné’s Children of Paradise. Charlie Chaplin’s film and Kabuki theatre are also a subject of homage, with their iconic and attuned relationship between audience and artist.

Featuring poetic, costumed characters, the exhibit brings us back to the valuable complicity between the artist and our humanity which, by nature, hungers for tenderness and depth.

“I have chosen to title this exhibition of drawings and sculptures The Smile at the Bottom of the Ladder. This title is inspired by The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder, a 1959 novella written by Henry Miller in response to the circus and clown drawings of the French cubist artist Fernand Leger. Miller’s singular story tells of Auguste, a famous clown who could make people laugh, but south to impart to his audiences a more lasting joy. I had never been interested int Miller’s writing until I came across this book, and recognized in it a profound and spiritual fable about art…”

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