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Currently shown
Yannick Pouliot

Self-portrait

Artist

Yannick Pouliot
Born in Sainte-Justine-de-Newton, Quebec, in 1978

Title

Self-portrait

Date

2016

Materials

Cast aluminum on a frosted two-way mirror

Dimensions

305 x 137 cm

Credits

Purchase, Ginette Trépanier Bequest, inv. 2016.459

Collection

Quebec and Canadian Art

Commissioned by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for the Path of Peace

Trained in cabinet making and horticulture, Pouliot holds a B.A. in Visual Art from Université Laval. When he began his career as an artist, he already possessed a rich vocabulary and a broad range of techniques. A multidisciplinary artist, he began with sculpture, drawing and printmaking. Passionate about history, philosophy and architecture, he has imbued his works with a refined sense of humour and upended the codes of aestheticism and power.


This huge two-way mirror, spotted with iridescent colours and sanded by the artist to lend it a patina of age, brings to mind the daguerreotype. The exuberant floral ornamentation in cast aluminum recalls the Neo-Rococo style that was so much in vogue under Louis XV. Applied to the mirror in the guise of a border, it symbolizes for the artist the idea of a “[...] liberated and invasive nature [...] The floral repertoire, in its subtle unfolding, was selected to reflect the desire for peace expressed in the name of the new pavilion.” At the same time, the device of the observed observer—which is, to say the least, unsettling— takes the visitor through to the other side of the mirror. Once on the other side, the narcissist, fresh from admiring his reflection, is transformed into a spy, a voyeur looking back upon the world he has just left. This staging makes the observer a subject of both the piece and the exhibition. Far from being new, this strategy has existed down through time; here it forces us to reflect on the paradoxes and fears that still inhabit Western civilization.

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