This exhibition will explore the abiding fascination Riopelle had with Canadian nordicity throughout his career, fed by exchanges of Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives. With a particular emphasis on his most beautiful series from the 1970s, the curated works and archives will gloriously present the prolific period in which Riopelle repeatedly journeyed up north and crossed the land to hunt, fish and immerse himself in nature. By exploring the artist’s numerous artistic and intellectual influences and retracing the travels that fuelled his imagination of the North – a theme little examined to date and never before delved into in a major exhibition – the MMFA wishes to contribute to the scientific understanding of Riopelle’s oeuvre through a meticulous analysis of the themes and motifs inspired by Nordic territories and the wildlife and Indigenous communities that inhabit them.
It is an unparalleled opportunity to admire rare masterpieces by the artist and discover the connections with certain Indigenous works that inspired them. The exhibition will bring together over 100 Jean-Paul Riopelle creations – paintings, sculptures, prints and mixed media pieces – from prestigious private and public collections, including those of Dr. Champlain Charest and the MMFA. It will also present a selection of Indigenous works from famous collections.
An exhibition developed, organized and circulated by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada. It also received support from the Audain Foundation.
Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923-2002), Landscape, 1971, acrylic on lithograph mounted on canvas, 160x 120 cm. Champlain Charest Collection. © Estate of Jean-Paul Riopelle / SOCAN (2019).