Salvific celebrates the return of in-person museum attendance after a months-long closure. Showcasing the Musée d’art de Joliette’s recent acquisitions, it takes on a kind of salvific role, the divine power to bring salvation to the soul. It relieves us from the grip of our computer screens and digital devices—the filters through which we consumed an abundant amount of culture during lockdown—and lets us reconnect with the experience of the art object and the breadth of its material subtleties.
Much like the Musée’s collection, which is particularly rich in art from the 20th century to today, Salvific brings together works from 1925 to 2015. The latter express the effects of scale, texture, and viewing angles that simply are not translatable on the screen, even with the latest technology. On the whole, this exhibition is a journey through the history of Canadian art that offers a non-linear presentation based on physical or thematic affinities. Nature, representations of the body, abstraction, high and popular culture, and visual perception are the main catalysts behind each grouping of works.
The materiality of the objects immediately engages the senses, namely our sense of touch and its haptic dimension—the visual memory of touch. The oldest works on view, all figurative, are a nod to early 20th century art history. At the time, some art historical analyses—on texture of the nude figure for instance—used terms related to the tactile world and haptic vision. The two-dimensional works were chosen for the high density of their materials, which enlivens them and in some cases brings them closer to the vocabulary of sculpture. While some compel us to take a closer look at their textured and subtle surface renderings, others require that we physically move in response to their oversized dimensions. And finally, the sculptural works deal with the body in a number of different ways or address the indexical character—the trace—of touch generated when in contact with an object that is no longer there.
Salvific also underlines the much-needed but still to be completed rectification that has guided the MAJ’s acquisition choices in recent years: parity between male and female artists. The renewal of our collections management policy, on the agenda this year, must act as a guide for years to come even though other rectifications have already been implemented.
Julie Alary Lavallée
Read wall labels
Pierre Ayot | Jérôme Bouchard | William Brymner | Cozic | Rodolphe Duguay | Marcelle Ferron | Louise Gadbois | Mathieu Grenier | Betty Goodwin | John Heward | Frère Jérôme | Jean-Paul Jérôme | Lucie Laporte | Renée Lavaillante | Lisette Lemieux | Richard Mill | Roberto Pellegrinuzzi | Rita Letendre | Yannick Pouliot | Louise Robert | Michael A. Robinson | Robert Roussil | Sylvia Safdie | Eugenie Shinkle | Alan Sonfist | Françoise Sullivan | Barbara Steinman | Mariette Vermette
Image in the banner:
View of the exhibition Salvific, Musée d’art de Joliette, 2021. Photo : Romain Guilbault