Meeting Place for Modern Art and Indigenous Cultures
Premiered last November, the exhibition Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures is the result of more than 15 years of exhaustive research that allowed experts to deepen their knowledge of the artist’s unique relationship with nature, but also and above all with Indigenous cultures and the Canadian North.
Currently presented by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts as a virtual experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exhibition will then move to the Audain Art Museum in Whistler, British Columbia, and to the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta, as part of a major Canadian tour, paving the way for Riopelle’s centennial celebrations in 2023. Other renowned museums could eventually be added to this already highly prestigious list.
A true meeting place between contemporary art and Indigenous cultures, the exhibition explores the influence of the First Peoples on the artist’s work. It provides a true immersion into a very prolific period for the artist leading to the late 1970’s. During these years, Riopelle’s work greatly evolved as he came to transpose into his art his deep admiration for the techniques and artistic traditions of the First Nations and Inuit Peoples – from West Coast masks to the melting icebergs, the vast snowy landscapes of the Great North and the wildlife he so loved to admire during his numerous hunting and fishing trips.
Made possible thanks to the financial support of the Audain Foundation, in collaboration with the Riopelle Foundation and many prestigious partners, the exhibition also features some never-before-seen works of art, including an exclusive presentation of La Fontaine. This monumental sculpture, made of painted plaster and ropes, was stored for decades in Jean Paul Riopelle’s studio before being recently restored by a MMFA’s team of experts. For the very first time in Québec, visitors can also admire the grandiose painting Point de rencontre, which is returning to Canada temporarily after more than 30 years at the Opéra Bastille in Paris.
The exhibition Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures, curated by Andréanne Roy, Jacques Des Rochers and Yseult Riopelle, brings together no less than 160 works of art – including 110 paintings, sculptures and drawings by Riopelle – as well as 150 artefacts and archival documents showcasing and highlighting the richness of Indigenous cultures.
Described as a “ground-breaking show” by The Globe and Mail’s Kate Taylor, amongst many others, the exhibition remains accessible online, until the re-opening of the museum. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts also published a magnificent catalog for the occasion, on sale at the MMFA’s boutique and bookstore.
To visit the virtual exhibit on the MMFA website, click here.