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Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), The Gardner Mané, 2019, mixed media. Photo: Guy L’Heureux
Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), The Gardner Mané, 2019, mixed media. Photo: Guy L’Heureux
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Manuel Mathieu

Survivance

Survivance

The arresting paintings of Haitian-born Montreal-based artist Manuel Mathieu draw viewers into a world of contrasts, tensions and poetry. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is proud to host this engaged creator for his first solo exhibition in a North American museum. Survivance brings together some twenty paintings never before shown in Canada. The exhibition also features an installation created especially for the MMFA, in which the artist’s roots and memories gradually reveal themselves, punctuating the vivid, striking compositions.

Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), Solitude, 2018, mixed media. Private Collection. Photo: Guy L'Heureux
Credit

A prolific multidisciplinary artist and recipient of the 2020 Sobey Art Award, Mathieu’s creativity is fuelled by his life experiences. Certain works express insights gained during two periods of convalescence following serious accidents in both London and Montreal. Being forced to slow down, Mathieu claims these periods of confinement enabled him to grow, tap into his feelings and, consequently, better understand his place in the world and the importance of preserving the imagination of his native country.

Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), Anonymous Black Baby, 2018, mixed media. Courtesy the Artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago. Photo Guy L'Heureux
Credit

These revelations led him to become interested in the impact of the genocidal Duvalier father-and-son dictatorships (1957 to 1986) on Haiti. Delving into his complex family history and the geopolitical context, Mathieu explores his identity from various angles: his maternal grandfather was a colonel in the early years of Jean-Claude Duvalier’s rule, while several members of his father’s family disappeared during the same regime. Mathieu, who views the dictatorship as collateral damage of the Cold War, does not see himself as an island in this world.

Manuel Mathieu, 2017. Photo Clovis-Alexandre Desvarieux
Credit

In Survivance, visitors will discover a fluid, expressive, quasi-Expressionist and sometimes even abstract painting style, revealing vaguely figurative references. We can also detect a conceptual approach, where ideas and issues are coded in various signs, the composition of the paintings and the vibrant, contrasting colours. Mathieu’s work invites us to enter a dazzling world of intriguing colours, textures and shapes.

The title of the exhibition is inspired by Georges-Didi Huberman’s Survivance des lucioles [Survival of the Fireflies] (2009), a book that had a profound effect on Mathieu. According to the author, the survival – and resilience – of fireflies, emitters of light, represent the keys to truth and freedom. For the artist, “Survivance” evokes the souls of those who have disappeared or what they have left behind.

Manuel Mathieu (né en 1986), St Jak, 2018, techniques mixtes. Avec l’aimable concours de l’artiste et Kavi Gupta, Chicago. Photo Guy L'Heureux
Credit
Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), Nature at Work, 2018, mixed media. Sheldon Inwentash and Lynn Factor, Toronto. Photo Guy L'Heureux

Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), Nature at Work, 2018, mixed media. Sheldon Inwentash and Lynn Factor, Toronto. Photo Guy L'Heureux

Manuel Mathieu (né en 1986), Rempart, 2018 techniques mixtes. Collection Joyner/Giuffrida. Photo Guy L'Heureux.

Manuel Mathieu (né en 1986), Rempart, 2018 techniques mixtes. Collection Joyner/Giuffrida. Photo Guy L'Heureux.

Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), 38, 2018, mixed media. Collection of Reuben O. Charles and Kimberly Charles. Photo Guy L'Heureux.

Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), 38, 2018, mixed media. Collection of Reuben O. Charles and Kimberly Charles. Photo Guy L'Heureux.

Publication

In November 2020, a 170-page catalogue complementing the exhibition will be published in French and English by the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto, in collaboration with the MMFA, under the direction of Amin Alsaden with the participation of Sylvie Lacerte. The book will be sold at the Museum’s Boutique and Bookstore.

Marie-Solange Apollon Fund

Manuel Mathieu is also the driving force behind the first endowment to be dedicated to the acquisition of works by Quebec and Canadian artists whose oeuvre is under-represented or absent from the Museum’s collection. Thanks to Manuel Mathieu’s generosity and leadership, and support from other donors who share his vision, the Marie-Solange Apollon Fund came into being. It is named after his grandmother, who played a major role in the artist’s life and who died of cancer in 2016. In addition to paying tribute to a beloved family member, the fund serves as a light to remind to all artists working in obscurity that their stories matter.

Manuel Mathieu, 2018. Photo Marie-Anne Letarte
Credit

Credits and curator

An exhibition organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. It is curated by Sylvie Lacerte, Curator of Quebec and Canadian Contemporary Art, MMFA. Official partner: the MMFA’s Young Philanthropists’ Circle.

Official suppliers

Air Canada
Denalt
MMFA Young Philanthropists' Circle logo

Public partners

Conseil des arts de Montréal
Canada Council for the Arts
Gouvernement du Québec
Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), Solitude, 2018, mixed media. Private Collection. Photo: Guy L'Heureux

Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), Solitude, 2018, mixed media. Private Collection. Photo: Guy L'Heureux

Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), Anonymous Black Baby, 2018, mixed media. Courtesy the Artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago. Photo Guy L'Heureux

Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), Anonymous Black Baby, 2018, mixed media. Courtesy the Artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago. Photo Guy L'Heureux

Manuel Mathieu, 2017. Photo Clovis-Alexandre Desvarieux

Manuel Mathieu, 2017. Photo Clovis-Alexandre Desvarieux

Manuel Mathieu (né en 1986), St Jak, 2018, techniques mixtes. Avec l’aimable concours de l’artiste et Kavi Gupta, Chicago. Photo Guy L'Heureux

Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), St Jak, 2018, mixed media. Courtesy the Artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago. Photo Guy L'Heureux

Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), Nature at Work, 2018, mixed media. Sheldon Inwentash and Lynn Factor, Toronto. Photo Guy L'Heureux

Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), Nature at Work, 2018, mixed media. Sheldon Inwentash and Lynn Factor, Toronto. Photo Guy L'Heureux

Manuel Mathieu (né en 1986), Rempart, 2018 techniques mixtes. Collection Joyner/Giuffrida. Photo Guy L'Heureux.

Manuel Mathieu (né en 1986), Rempart, 2018 techniques mixtes. Collection Joyner/Giuffrida. Photo Guy L'Heureux.

Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), 38, 2018, mixed media. Collection of Reuben O. Charles and Kimberly Charles. Photo Guy L'Heureux.

Manuel Mathieu (born in 1986), 38, 2018, mixed media. Collection of Reuben O. Charles and Kimberly Charles. Photo Guy L'Heureux.

Manuel Mathieu, 2018. Photo Marie-Anne Letarte

Manuel Mathieu, 2018. Photo Marie-Anne Letarte

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