The Montreal Jazz Festival’s Galerie Lounge TD in the Quartier des Spectacles now has a fabulous, fun and free show featuring Armand Vaillancourt, a Quebec artist-icon. I recently the chance to meet Armand for the Montreal Buzz…
His 82-year old energy bowled me over! He lives surrounded by ‘‘inspiration’’ – rooms piled to the ceiling with old chairs, empty suitcases, and just ‘‘stuff I love’’. He confessed ‘‘I often find things in the garbage’’, giving a whole new take on objets trouvés – art created with objects that the artist finds.
After visiting Armand in his home for a Alice in Wonderland-type tour in which he showed me an astounding range of art and artefacts, the artist took me outside. His lawn is strewn with dinosaur-sized iron bits, rain-rusted and beautiful. He explained that one enormous log was ‘‘a hundred-year old tree trunk that had been cut and left in a park so I had it craned into my yard.’’ This leading figure in Quebec contemporary art is also a down-to-earth, passionate human being who finds wonder in the everyday.
The exhibition, On n’a pas de printemps à perdre?, celebrates Armand Vaillancourt’s past and present art: sculptures in both bronze and wood, installation ideas for public places, paintings and silk screens – most never before seen in public. At the vernissage, I noted sensational, sharp silk screens, calligraphic works created with his sure hand, as well as powerful paintings whose piled-on colours, applied with a palette knife, jump with joy, like Vaillancourt’s dynamic personality.
There is an interesting difference between his sculptures / installations and his works on paper. His sculptures are almost totemic: massive – and heavy. He handed me a bolt for holding one of the steel panels together in his latest piece: I could hardly lift it! Yet his paintings are bursting with an incredible lightness of being. They are gorged with buoyant hues. This innovative artist, who seems always to be smiling, has been a pioneer all his life.
His profound inventiveness is sought after for corporate collections as well as museums and public places. In San Francisco’s Embarcadero Plaza, for example, his monumental fountain created in 1971 bears witness to his technical and aesthetic ability. Here in Montreal we can enjoy his elegant elegaic to life: his own ode to joy. Witness it, , up close and personal, on September 8, when he puts on a live painting performance at the corner of Balmoral and Mayor.
Armand Vaillancourt’s On n’a pas de printemps à perdre?, August 4 to September 18, 2011
Galerie Lounge TD, 305 Ste-Catherine Street West