A season in blue, white, red, and much more!
QUÉBEC CITY, Oct. 27, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Québec art has the place of honour this fall at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ). From October 28, 2021 to January 9, 2022, a bold, unifying human adventure awaits visitors with LEMOYNE. Offside, a significant exhibition devoted to the unclassifiable Serge Lemoyne (1941-1998), a seminal artist in the history of Québec art.
Lemoyne, or the art of being in the vanguard
Lemoyne is credited with shaking the Québec art scene and contributing significantly to a basic calling into question of the language of the visual arts in Québec in the 1960s and in subsequent decades.
He was a multidisciplinary artist before his time and the instigator of the first happenings. He was also one of the first Québec artists to lay the foundation of practice that was more liberating than intellectual. Following the example of New York artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, and Allan Kaprow, whose work he admired, starting in the 1960s he ventured into the pop universe and became interested in participatory art and collective creation.
He defended with unwavering conviction the accessibility of art for everyone, a mission to which he devoted himself throughout his career spanning nearly four decades. In addition to his social commitment and the identity-related scope of his practice, much of his art developed around facets of his daily life.
«We are blue-white-red. It’s our culture, our history. It’s the French flag, the British flag, the American flag, which have also played an important role in our history. Blue-white-red is the red of Canada and the blue of Québec. The Montreal Canadiens’ uniform is highly symbolic for me.»
– Serge Lemoyne, 1992
A period in blue, white, and red
In light of his determination to democratize the arts, Serge Lemoyne focused for 10 years on the theme of hockey, which for him represented more than a sport. It is the phenomenon par excellence that affects the greatest number of people, regardless of background: intellectuals, workers, blue-collar, white-collar, and red-collar workers, and brothers of the Sacred Heart. It was in conjunction with a performance organized in London, Ontario in 1969 during which Lemoyne transformed the 20/20 Gallery into a hockey rink that the «blue, white, red» cycle inspired by the colours of the Montreal Canadiens, his favourite hockey team, was born, and continued until 1979. The exhibition includes the following outstanding works in the series: Slizzler rouge (1969), Sans titre (1975), Bleu, blanc, rouge continu 1, 2, 3 (1976), Lafleur Stardust (1975), Béliveau (1975) and, obviously, Dryden (1975).
A unique exploit
The thematic exhibition presents an outstanding summary of Lemoyne’s output, at once playful and forceful. The MNBAQ has achieved a genuine exploit by assembling nearly 200 works and 100 archives. No fewer than 37 private lenders and 15 institutions, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the National Gallery of Canada, the Musée des beaux-arts de Sherbrooke, and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, have facilitated the organization of this major exhibition.
It celebrates a larger-than-life artist and highlights his craving for total freedom expressed through all forms of creativity and a dissident attitude toward art and traditional arts and cultural venues, as reflected in his numerous ephemeral, interactive and occasionally subversive interventions.
The Acton Vale house, or the disturbing fluid work
Lemoyne also used his home in Acton Vale as a source of creation. The family home, in which his grandparents, parents, sisters and he lived, is central to his approach. It sustained his pictorial production and became the raw material for sculptures comprising assemblages of items taken from it. Through the initiatives that he undertook there, Lemoyne pursued his ideal of abolishing the boundaries between art and life.
The MNBAQ presents Ken Dryden’s mythical mask for the first time
For the very first time, the MNBAQ has the privilege to present a mythical object at the LEMOYNE. Offside exhibition: the protective mask of Ken Dryden, the legendary Montreal Canadiens goalie who contributed to six of the team’s Stanley Cup victories in the 1970s. The elite athlete is also the subject of Dryden, a well-known huge painting by Serge Lemoyne produced in 1975.
A hockey player, lawyer, politician and author, Ken Dryden has received numerous awards and honours, including the Order of Canada, in 2013. Above all, he is celebrated for his performance as the Montreal Canadiens goalie, before he retired in 1978. In an interview with Sylvie Lacerte, art historian and independent curator, which appears in the publication that accompanies the exhibition, Ken Dryden recounts his connection with Serge Lemoyne’s work, his initial contact with the painting, his relationship with art, and the political context in which he developed with the Montreal Canadiens. Above all, the interview reveals how an artist who was a hockey enthusiast who sought to build bridges between sports and art was inspired by a top athlete to create an emblematic work in the history of art in Québec.
The exhibition seeks to reflect a career imbued with freedom, creativity, and subversion. It focuses on key themes (Artistic Face-Off, Cosmos, Tributes, Triangle, Trick Moves, Painting Out of Bounds, and Outside the Frame) that reveal outstanding works.
Some highlights: Dryden (1975) shows the celebrated goalie Ken Dryden, captured in action, in a tight close-up of his mask that is akin to sports photography; Sans titre from the Cosmos series (1966), is a drawing produced with fluorescent pigment under ultraviolet light that evokes a cosmic aesthetic and a futuristic spirit; Trilogie d’un triangle noir (1987) is an immense, impressive triptych comprising three triangular structures, each one dedicated to one of his artistic influences, including the Plasticiens, the Automatistes, and Christo; Intersection jaune sur fond noir (1982), in which a big «X» springs from the canvas and appears to radically affirm a new orientation after the blue-white-red series; Position, trace et rigueur (1982), dating from the 1980s, embodies Lemoyne’s twofold artistic identity as an Automatiste and a Plasticien painter; Journal, tome 1 (1994), is the wall of a rented apartment in Montréal, painted on both sides, that he cut out when he moved; Bleu, de la série Noms (1983), which is part of the Le triste sort réservé aux originaux exhibition presented in 1984 at the Michel Tétreault Gallery, one of Lemoyne’s events that most disturbed artistic conventions since the artist decided to only project slides of the works and a video in which he is seen painting them, instead of proposing a traditional hanging; Fenêtre à la balustrade (1995), made up of fragments of his house in Acton Vale, reused in 1995, in works midway between sculpture and painting; and, lastly, Planche à repasser [Cap Canaveral], (1963), a painted ironing board, a common object, that Lemoyne raised to the status of an artwork and disturbs its operation, thereby blurring conventional criteria that come under the «fine arts.» This overview that is sure to strike the imagination.
Brilliant staging that is worthy of Lemoyne’s work
Bold staging was called for to pay tribute to Lemoyne’s unbridled imaginative universe. As soon as visitors enter the Grand Hall of the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion, Sans titre (1970) will quickly engage them. The giant-format work is reproduced on the ground and in the oval shape of an outdoor skating rink. From the outset, it plunges visitors into hockey fever, a passion very dear to the artist, before exploring the space devoted to his Blue, white, red period. Moreover, the two table hockey games, excerpts from the first hockey game between the Canadiens and the Nordiques, and the archives focusing on the Slap shot (1972) and Party d’étoiles (1973) events, are sure to delight interaction fans. Otherwise, the room lit with black light will surprise visitors and enable them to appreciate the Cosmos series, works produced with fluorescent pigment. Large-format photographs of Lemoyne, the profusion of archives, the spirit of the Acton Value house, with its pieces of walls and balustrades, and fascinating documentaries will round out this solid, intense adventure.
A two-part audio tour
To enrich visitors’ experience of LEMOYNE. Offside, the audio guide is the ideal tool to delve into the heart of the practice of the enfant terrible of the visual arts. In addition to broaching the seminal Blue, white, red period, the audio tour seeks to highlight the artist’s imposing multifaceted work through reflections drawn from archives and his contemporaries’ interpretations of formal aspects and the values that sustained the period and particularly sustained Lemoyne.
Montreal Canadiens’ fans will have the pleasure of following the audio tour by discovering stops commented by sports broadcaster and humourist Kevin Raphael. His vignettes, Les mises en jeu de Kevin Raphael, lend a humorous note to this major exhibition and shed new light on Lemoyne’s work.
Visitors can download the audio guide, available in French and in English, on their cell phones. To listen:
The exhibition LEMOYNE. Offside is organized by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.
Director of Exhibitions and International Relations, MNBAQ
Curator of Contemporary Art (1950-2000), MNBAQ
Head of Mediation, MNBAQ
Head of Museography, MNBAQ
Head of Collections, MNBAQ
The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec is a state corporation funded by the Gouvernement du Québec.
Pierre Lassonde Pavilion of the MNBAQ
October 28, 2021 to January 9, 2022
SOURCE Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec