From September 19, 2020 to February 7, 2021

This major exhibition accompanied by a scientific publication, will contribute to the scientific knowledge of the work of renowned Quebec Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923-2002). It will be an unparalleled opportunity to follow Riopelle’s pictorial and sculptural evolution through his recurring references to northern regions that fueled his imagination – notably James Bay, Hudson Bay, Nunavik and Nunavut – and the Indigenous communities that live there. We discover a Riopelle who has absorbed the Surrealist interest in non-Western arts, as well as the influences of his friend and collector of indigenous art Georges Duthuit and the works of anthropologists such Jean Malaurie and Claude Levi Strauss. In this regard, the exhibition will analyze Riopelle’s work in relation to some of the Indigenous creations that inspired it, notably through a selection of Inuit masks and First Nations masks from the Northwest Coast.

This imagining of the North that feeds Riopelle’s production will be highlighted for the first time by a vast selection of leading works and archives. The exhibition consists of a collection of some 150 works from numerous museums and private collections, Canadian and international, including the collection of Dr. Champlain Charest, friend and patron of the artist with whom Riopelle travels in the North and Far North of Quebec and Canada, which will mark his practice both in its formal and iconographic dimensions.

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).

Credits and curatorial team

An exhibition developed, organized and circulated by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada. Under the direction of Nathalie Bondil, Director General and Chief Curator, MMFA, the exhibition is curated by. Curators: Andréanne Roy and Yseult Riopelle, Guest Curators, and Jacques Des Rochers, Curator of Quebec and Canadian Art (before 1945), MMFA. A presentation of Hydro-Québec. Major public partner: Canadian Heritage. Major philanthropic partner: Audain Foundation. In collaboration with Hatch. Official Partner: MMFA Angel Circle.