Whistler's Audain Art Museum immerses West Coast audiences in the world of Jean Paul Riopelle

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Whistler's Audain Art Museum immerses West Coast audiences in the world of Jean Paul Riopelle
Jean Paul Riopelle (1923-2002), Blizzard, 1954, oil on canvas, 95.5 x 125 cm. Private Collection. © Estate of Jean Paul Riopelle / SOCAN (2021).

The Audain Art Museum presents Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures, a major exhibition dedicated to Quebec’s Jean Paul Riopelle (1923-2002). This ambitious exhibition for the Audain Art Museum envelops viewers in Riopelle’s approach to artistic production, providing an opportunity to become steeped in the inspiration behind the work of one of Canada’s most internationally recognized artists of the 20th century.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Jean Paul Riopelle established himself in Paris as one of the leading Western artists of the post-World War II cultural avant-garde. This exhibition brings together rarely seen paintings, prints and sculptures from the 1970s, a lesser known period of Riopelle’s artistic career. These works represent a fascinating development in Riopelle’s oeuvre as he begins to delve into subject matter from a distinctly North American perspective, with direct references to snow and ice-covered northern landscapes while also looking to Indigenous art for inspiration. In many ways, the artist was pushing past the limits of his earlier work, that are often considered abstract, to reveal the subjective impetus behind them.

“With a vision of providing access to the highest quality historic and contemporary art from BC, across Canada, and around the world, the Audain Art Museum is dedicated to engaging in cross-cultural conversations” explains Dr. Curtis Collins, Director & Chief Curator of the AAM. “This complex exhibition does exactly that, drawing strong connections to the Museum’s Permanent Collection of Indigenous art and repertoire of historic and contemporary special exhibitions. Our goal is that this exhibition will encourage important dialogue about the trajectory of artistic production and collecting in Canada.”

The exhibition is developed, organized and circulated by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. It was curated by guest curators Andréanne Roy and Yseult Riopelle as well as by Jacques Des Rochers, Curator of Quebec and Canadian Art (before 1945), MMFA.

“The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is delighted that the Audain Art Museum will be the first venue to host its travelling exhibition dedicated to Jean Paul Riopelle and his interest in nordicity and Indigenous cultures,” explains Stéphane Aquin, Director, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. “Known for the wealth of Canadian and Indigenous art in its collection, the Audain Art Museum is just the place to showcase the rich cultural diversity in the work of the great Quebec artist and his Indigenous peers.”

The exhibition was made possible by Presenting Sponsor: The Audain Foundation, Partners of the Canadian Tour: the Government of Canada and the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation, Major Sponsors: BMO and Heffel Fine Art Auction House, Supporting Sponsor: Dentons, Government Partner: Resort Municipality of Whistler and Hotel Partner: Fairmont Chateau Whistler.

Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures is on display in Whistler from October 23, 2021 until February 21, 2022.

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