Opening on June 3
Françoise Sullivan discovered pastel during her return to Greece in 1996. She appreciated the splendor of this material, the texture and the nuances that it makes possible. Echoing her "Cretan cycle" of the 1980's, created after a first stay there, she first produced landscape-like works in 1996. The years 1998-1999 are prosperous and she produced hundreds of drawings during this period. Thereafter, she continued to produce colorful, vivid and attractive works on paper that are similar in spirit to her works on canvas.
The body of work presented by Galerie Simon Blais is unique in its size and the selection that was made. This will be the first time we have devoted such a large exhibition to the pastel work of Françoise Sullivan, whom we have represented since 2005. This will be her 11th solo exhibition at our gallery.
Biographical notes for Françoise Sullivan
While this unique and multi-faceted artist is known as a dancer and choreographer, it is her work as a visual artist that truly marks her long career. Today, Françoise Sullivan is arguably the most important living Canadian visual artist.
Educated at the École des beaux-arts, she was a founding member of the avant-garde Automatisme movement, along with Paul-Émile Borduas and Jean Paul Riopelle, and in 1948 she signed the Refus global manifesto, to which was appended the full text of her famous lecture, Dance and Hope. In the 1960s, she became a sculptor, and in the 1970s, a conceptual artist. It was in the 1980s that Françoise Sullivan returned definitively to painting. Initially turned to Greek mythology following a long stay on the island of Crete, Sullivan's painting simplified in the 1990s to become very often monochrome. It is this approach that will make her the star of the Canadian visual art scene.
Active for over 70 years, she still works in the studio every day. What art historian Louise Déry, her friend, wrote in 2017 is still true: "She persists with such élan, in the all-white space of her vast studio, where one feels the wonderful ebullition of someone who never stops thinking about herself through the vagaries of intuition, reflection and experimentation." (Louise Déry, Trajectories, 2017) A teacher in the Department of Fine Arts at Concordia University in Montreal for over 30 years, Françoise Sullivan won the Paul-Émile-Borduas Prize in 1987 and the Gershon Iskowitz Foundation Prize in 2008. She was made a Knight of the Order of Quebec in 2002 and received the Order of Montreal medal in 2017.
Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including at the Tate Modern in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Surrealism Beyond Borders, 2021-2022), as well as in other prestigious institutions in Canada, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Denmark and Turkey. Her major solo exhibitions include those at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal in 1981 and 2018, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in 1993, the Macina di San Cresci in Greve in Chianti, Italy in 2019, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2003. The latter will dedicate another exhibition to her in the fall of 2023 on the occasion of the artist's centennial.