QUÉBEC CITY, Nov. 14, 2018 – To mark the grand finale of its 85th anniversary celebrations, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) will reopen the Gérard Morisset Pavilion. In the wake of a highly successful revitalization that has made the building dating from 1933 more beautiful and luminous than ever, it will open to the public on November 15, 2018 to present three new exhibitions: 350 Years of Artistic Practices in Québec, White Mirage and Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? The exhibitions are presented in the seven exhibition rooms of the original pavilion, which now harmonizes with the overall MNBAQ museum complex. They reflect the major reorganization of the museum’s collections of ancient and modern art and its recent acquisitions.
Left to right: Zacharie Vincent, Zacharie Vincent et son fils Cyprien, 1852-1853. Huile sur toile, 48,5 x 41,2 cm. Collection du Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. Achat (1947.156) Photo : MNBAQ, Patrick Altman //
Marie-Claire Blais, Brûler les yeux fermés, s_11, 2012. Peinture acrylique en aérosol sur toile, 152 x 114,5 cm. Collection du Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, achat pour la collection Prêt d’oeuvres d’art du Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (CP.2013.67) © Marie-Claire Blais Crédit photo : MNBAQ, Denis Legendre //
Charles Alexander, L’Assemblée des six comtés à Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu, en 1837. Huile sur toile, 300,8 x 691,3 cm. Acquisition vers 1930 et transfert de l’hôtel du Parlement en 1937. Restauration effectuée par le Centre de conservation du Quebec grâce à une contribution des Amis du Musée national des beaux-arts du Quebec (1937.54) Photo : MNBAQ, Jean-Guy Kérouac //
Lacasse, François, Grandes Pulsions VII, 2008. Acrylique et encre sur toile, 190,5 x 152,7 cm. Collection du Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, don de l’artiste (2017.279) © François Lacasse Crédit photo : MNBAQ, Idra Labrie //
Ludger Larose, La Serre, 1910. Huile sur toile, 125 x 87 cm. Collection du Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. Don de Marcel Larose. Restauration effectuée par le Centre de conservation du Québec (1963.78). Photo : MNBAQ, Idra Labrie
Teams from the MNBAQ have been at work for months to orchestrate an artistic panorama from the 17th century to the present encompassing nearly 700 paintings, sculptures, works by silversmiths and goldsmiths and furnishings, graphic art works and photographs, of which more than 400 have never been exhibited, celebrating more than 250 Québec artists. The exhibition showcases Québec art as you have never before seen it.
350 Years of Artistic Practices in Québec
A fresh look at the collections of ancient and modern art
The exhibition 350 Years of Artistic Practices in Québec stems from deep-seated reflection on the national collection and reflects changes in museology and contemporary society’s perception of its heritage. It proposes a bold panorama of the history of visual culture, from the period of New France to 1960s counterculture, through five key themes: Believe, Become, Imagine, Feel and Claim.
The exhibition occupies five of the seven exhibition rooms in the Gérard Morisset Pavilion. It highlights the individuals who have shaped the history of Québec art, the careers of women and men who have moulded contemporary Québec, from copyists to Les Automatistes, the beginnings of the market to the profusion of artistic currents. This major reorganization proposes a fresh perspective of several distinctive and sometimes little-known works from the MNBAQ’s collections.
A renewed layout and creative, diversified reliance on mediation round out the multidimensional experience of this outstanding overview of the history of Québec art, in which emotions will be accorded a special place.
A spectacular installation
The MNBAQ design team has brilliantly addressed a daunting challenge, that of organizing the space in the exhibition rooms of the 350 Years of Artistic Practices in Québec exhibition. To reflect the continuity of the design of the exhibition rooms of the collection in the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion, they adopted an uncluttered, ethereal style that emphasizes white, blond wood, metal elements and glass. In the exhibition room devoted to the theme “Believe,” the notion of anamorphosis, of the fragmented church, might surprise some visitors with the impressive suspension of sculptures, which make more visible than ever the elements normally hidden from view, either the bottoms of the works, breakage, changes and restorations.
Sophisticated hanging systems on glass panels in the exhibition room devoted to the theme “Become” allow paintings to be placed at eye level. In this way, visitors will have the impression that they are strolling among the inhabitants of different periods and origins. The gigantic paintings in the exhibition room devoted to the theme “Imagine” are striking indeed. The judicious use of carpets and the enhancement of the furnishings in this exhibition room also contribute to the pleasure of discovering the different areas. In the exhibition room devoted to the theme “Feel,” the experience of landscapes expresses itself from season to season through a path that successively reveals the lights, colours and pictorial touches of the masterpieces from the collection. Numerous glass walls in the exhibition room devoted to the theme “Claim” offer visitors glimpses of all of the areas, in keeping with the two windows newly opened in the room, which reveal an urban landscapes and afford an unrestricted view of the river. Windows in all of the rooms highlight the works on paper that illuminate as visitors pass by. The numerous drawings, prints and photographs will be rotated regularly, thus ensuring the ongoing renewal of the national collection.
“My country is not a country, it’s winter” poet Gilles Vigneault sang with conviction. Whether we love, detest or fantasize about it, the season that is the key to the Québec identity does not inspire writers alone. Indeed, it is the focus of a new exhibition presented at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) in conjunction with the reopening of the Gérard Morisset Pavilion. From November 15, 2018 to May 12, 2019, White Mirage, which is part of the major reorganization of the collections of ancient and modern art and the MNBAQ’s recent acquisitions presented in the ground floor exhibition rooms, assembles more than 70 works from the national collection produced by more than 40 artists. The assembled works are from different periods and encompass paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures, ceramics and glass and evoke northern environments or delight visitors through their evocative power.
Micheline Beauchemin’s Mirage blanc
The exhibition opens with a strikingly beautiful textile creation. Mirage blanc is the lyrical title of a work by Micheline Beauchemin, a tapestry that the artist produced in the wake of a lengthy stay on Baffin Island in Nunavut. The blue monochrome and the mother-of-pearl threads used for the weaving recall the sparkling light on the frozen expanses of the Far North.
Whether they are poetic, historical or humorous, all of the works in the White Mirage exhibition evoke winter. The photographs of Montminy & Cie, including Le Raquetteur (1894), will delight visitors, who will appreciate the beauty of painter Edmund Willoughby’s Iceberg dans le détroit de Belle Isle (1875), or the strength emanating from Manasie Akpaliapik’s Sedna, déesse de la mer (2000). Other exhibition highlights include François Lacasse’s fascinating work Grandes pulsions I (2007), B.r.e.e.z.e., Susan Edgerly’s remarkable wall-mounted sculpture comprising disks of glass and paper evoking frost and ice, and Pascal Grandmaison’s spectacular installation Desperate Island (2010).
A space to speak out on winter
As they visit the exhibition, visitors can appreciate a vox pop that assembles testimony from individuals of all ages and backgrounds questioned about their relationship with winter. The participants shared their recollections and impressions of the Québec winter, which inhabits our landscapes, defines our ways of life and enlivens our imaginative universe. Winter can be synonymous with pleasure, adversity or discovery, whether we have lived through several winters or are encountering our first one.
An enveloping space has been set aside to enable visitors to express their personal experience of winter. Cards are available on which they can record their stories and impressions, to be deposited in a box. MNBAQ staff will collect the cards and, over time, display the participants’ impressions, stories and words on the walls of the exhibition rooms. They will create a vast mosaic of murmurs that illustrate our collective imagination.
Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
In the wake of the celebrations marking the reopening of the Gérard Morisset Pavilion, in conjunction with the reorganization of the collections of ancient and modern art and its new acquisitions, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) is proud to present the Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? exhibition, which bears the title of a powerful work by Jean McEwen that engages in timeless questioning on identity. From November 15, 2018 to November 12, 2019, visitors can discover more than 40 works, all recent acquisitions of the MNBAQ, produced by nearly 30 artists from varied backgrounds, who express our stratified identity and in respect of which there persists a fundamental question: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?
The exhibition bears the title of McEwen’s work
Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? evocatively poses universal questioning on identity. The exhibition’s title, quoting a celebrated painting by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), is a major work by artist Jean McEwen, whose questioning from the perspective of “we” encourages us to revisit our origins and collective histories. It is important that history, formerly drafted by a dominating hand, hears, acknowledges and records at a time of post-colonial reflection the memory of these who experienced this ascendancy.
Art is a vital witness of the times
Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? comprises recent acquisitions of the MNBAQ and appears as an upheaval. Through their evocative power, the works transport, disturb or impassion viewers. Assembled here, they underpin contemporary demands. The exhibition proposes a return to certain moments in our history, its scars and grey areas linked to the past and to the present. Such reflections are essential to define ourselves, assemble and unite such that the “we” in question becomes imbued with diversity and thereby corresponds to an open societal project based on a desire for change.
The reorganization of the MNBAQ’s collections of ancient and modern art reveals that the collections have developed in symbiosis with Québec’s traditional history, leaving little place for works by women, the Aboriginal peoples and culturally diverse artists. The MNBAQ is playing a key role in recording Québec’s visual memory. Québec must constantly question its relationship with history, review it and examine its margins to highlight what has, since its foundation, escaped its notice or been dismissed because of bias. Through this exhibition and future acquisitions, the MNBAQ is committing itself to openness and inclusion.
Three key themes and their seminal works
The exhibition hinges on three powerful themes. Among the seminal works that brilliantly illustrate the first theme, “Break with Québec’s colonial history — Hear and record the memory of those who experienced it,” mention must be made of Jean McEwen’s major work Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going, after which the exhibition is named, and Juno I, II et III (2017), sculptures by Caroline Monnet.
At the heart of the exhibition, the theme “The wounds stemming from this history – How to collectively rebuild our lives,” is powerfully expressed by Massimo Guerrera’s creation À mots perdus (1990), Andrew Dutkewych’s It’s Difficult to Say (1992), and Mike Patten’s Native Beating (2011).
The third theme, more closely linked to current affairs, “Right-wing populism, popular anxiety and identity,” is reflected in Dominique Blains’ Locum Sanctum (1995), Milutin Gubash’s sculptures A Doll 1 and A Doll 2 (2015), and Alfred Halassa’s powerful series of posters entitled Du totalitarisme à la démocratie (2009).
The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec is a state corporation funded by the Gouvernement du Québec.
350 Years of Artistic Practices in Q Québec
Beginning November 15, 2018
November 15, 2018 to May 12, 2019
Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
November 15, 2018 to November 12, 2019
Gérard-Morisset Pavilion of the MNBAQ