Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Monsieur Armand Vaillancourt to you!


As I mentioned yesterday, I got to see the Armand Vaillancourt show at the Centre des Arts Contemporain de Montr�al even though it was closed. No, it wasn't because I'm special (you are special) it was because I tried the door, it opened, and when the dude on the mezzanine called out that they were closed � it being a Monday and all, I said all I wanted to do was look at the art, and he said "ok." It might have had something to with my use of "please" and "thank you," I dunno (or actually "s'il vous plait" and "merci.").

Anyhows, M. Vaillancourt is an impressive artist. If you type his name into Google you get 4,550 hits (in comparison if you type "Zeke's Gallery" into Google you only get a number that looks like 1,050). Granted he's been around for a little bit longer than the gallery has, but that's a whole 'nother story.

I haven't been able to find an on line version of his CV, but I ain't slogging through 4,000+ links, I got stuff to write! Suffice it to say that man has been called a legend in the press fluff from a gallery in Saint Paul, and they aren't too far from the truth.

He lives around the corner from the gallery, and the exhibition is taking place two blocks away from the gallery, so missing it would be something egregious (c'mon, every now and again a big word makes me feel impo'tent!)

John K. Grande (got it right this time!) wrote about the man:

Where is the cherished notion of society in artistic activity and expression? Current artistic expression often expresses notions of hybridity, of nihilism, or most often a postModern malaise for which no remedy is offered. The conditions of modern life are reflected in these works, but the patient's illness is neither prevented nor treated, merely described. There is a lack of direction in many artists' representations of what I would call a "formal notion of what creativity is". The whole process has become all too self-conscious. As such we can learn from looking at Armand Vaillancourt's art and life, for his background and long experience reflect social concerns through direct action. � link

Stop reading right now and go see M. Vaillancourt's work, I'll wait, you're probably not all that far away from it, either

... you back? Good.

If on the other hand you're one of the folk reading this long distance, try this, or this, or this, or this. Mr. Grande is right that you can learn from looking at M. Vaillancourt's art. I'm not entirely sure if I agree with him about "hybridity," "nihilism," "postModern malaise," or "a "formal notion of what creativity is.'" But I'll leave that discussion to die like some roadkill by the side of the road.

At the Centre des Arts Contemporain de Montr�al, they have a bunch of M. Vaillancourt's paintings (not so impressive, but there is one really big sucker which could be considered impressive just on the basis of it's size) and a whack of his sculptures. Now the sculptures kick-ass from here to Embarcadero Plaza (inside joke, click on the link).

I'd almost grown up with one of his sculptures. There was this thing that got put up across the street from my mom's house, and the scuttlebutt in the neighborhood was that the Westmount matrons forced the fig leaves on the sculpture. Because initially the cartoon characters were, gasp! Butt naked! It wasn't until I was doing the research for this here blog that I discovered that it was by M. Vaillancourt.


Now besides the nekkid folk in Westmount, there are also three of his pieces in Carre Saint Louis, one at the botanical gardens, and one on Mount Royal. Enough to say that even if the man had not won the Prix du Qu�bec you've seen what he has created, and a large majority of the bureaucratic mucky mucks in this province have decided that regular Joes should see what the man has done. Why Marcel Brisebois or Guy Cogeval haven't come around to this way of thinking I don't know � but that's another roadkill of an argument, better left to rot, by the side of the road.

Mr. Grande also writes in the introduction to his book "I had to go behind the mask of Armand Vaillancourt's public image, to try and find out what make him tick. I was surprised to find a pleasant, engaging and thoughtful individual, whose commitment to the creative impulse has gone far beyond the ordinary, even remarkable."� link

Now, since I have only briefly met M. Vaillancourt once (in front of his house, on the park, where he flirted with the woman that I was with) and I don't pay much attention to the white cube notion of art writing, I neither have to go behind any mask, nor am I particularly worried about what makes him tick (as long as it keeps ticking). I am solely concerned with the art he makes, and if you haven't figured it out 850+ words into this blog entry, let me make it even more obvious, it rocks! I would not be surprised by anything about M. Vaillancourt, least of all him being engaging (duh! He's an artist!) or thoughtful (he's taken some extreme views in his long life, I would hope he could think) and committed, jeezus! By definition he's gotta be committed (and no, not that way, silly).

I got no pictures to show you of the exhibition, and as the place was supposed to be closed, I wasn't expecting to be able to take notes, so I don't even remember the names of the damn pieces � but there's some drippy stuff, some cut-out stuff, some beat up stuff (probably burned too!) some things that stick up, and a Volkswagon Beetle toy car which probably would cause (or has caused) multi-syllabic contortions from the white cube crowd. Well worth your time, and if you sign the guest book you can probably feel fairly confident that M. Vailancourt will read your comments.

Lastly as an addition to Mr. Grande's introduction, yes, it was Shakespeare who wrote "This is an art which does mend nature: change it rather; but the art itself is nature." But he wrote it in A Winter's Tale, not Twelfth Night. He also wrote "And do not call them bastards."

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