The Foundation of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
announced the creation of a fund devoted solely to the acquisition of works by emerging Quebec and Canadian artists who are underrepresented in the Museum's collection. Thanks to a gift from the Haitian-Canadian artist Manuel Mathieu and support from other donors who share his vision, the Marie-Solange Apollon Fund came into being.
Marie-Solange Apollon Fund
In 2018 Manuel Mathieu became the first Haitian-Canadian artist to have a work acquired by the MMFA, thanks to the Hélène Couture Fund. On being offered this historic opportunity, the artist decided to make a real impact on the art scene in Quebec and worked with the Museum Foundation to create the Marie-Solange Apollon Fund.
The Marie-Solange Apollon Fund is the first endowment to be devoted solely to the acquisition of works by Quebec and Canadian artists whose oeuvre is under-represented or absent from the Museum's collection. It was inspired by a woman who had played a major role in the artist's life, his grandmother, who died of cancer in 2016. The creation of this fund was triggered by the Museum's acquisition of Self-portrait, a painting by Mathieu depicting Marie-Solange Apollon in her garden in Blainville. The fund was established not only to pay tribute to her but above all to assure all artists who work in obscurity that their stories are also important.
Thanks to Mathieu's generosity and leadership, this new fund will encourage the acquisition of works by artists that comply with the following requirements:
Not represented or only minimally represented in the Museum's collection; Living and ideally aged 45 or less; Works of art executed since the year 2000; Parity of representation of male and female artists; Living in Quebec.
A first acquisition
Thanks to this fund, the MMFA was able to acquire an initial work: Birdsong by Leila Zelli. An emerging artist, Zelli was born in Tehran in 1981 and came to Canada in 2004. It was in 2019, during her Impressions residency at the Museum, that she executed the video Birdsong.
Creating in situ video installations using existing media images and videos found on the Internet, she provides visual and sound experiences that create an opportunity to reflect on the state of the world, our relationship with the Other and the actual effect of our actions on humanity. In her oeuvre Zelli is never far from the region where she was born. She seeks to understand the source of the conflicts that are part of the daily life of the peoples of the Middle East and how they persevere under such difficult conditions. In this work she pays particular attention to children and the lot of women.
Contrary to her usual practice of finding her images on the Internet, during her Impressions residency Zelli took inspiration directly from the Museum's collection of Persian ceramics and added to her work short phrases based on tweets on Twitter (hence the # and the bird that wander across the screen), mainly referring to the lot of women in Iran since the Islamic of 1979. This piece is thus very close to her life, as she wore the burqa until she left Iran with her family.