A text by Josée Belisle, accompanied by excerpts from interviews with the artist

 L'oeuvre au Noir or the Passages of Shadow

Josée Belisle was curator of the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal's permanent collection from 1988 to 2015. This text was published for the exhibition Roland Poulin, presented at the MACM from November 5, 1999 to March 26, 2000.

For the past 30 years, Roland Poulin has shaken up the established order of sculpture and proposed, in response to the existential chaos, formal passages in which the private, the tragic and an eloquent resistance coexist. His sculptures and drawings probe the depths of reconstructed spaces, in which reality and appearance, the idea of the object and the infinite rigour of its formation, come together.

Throughout an exacting, unyielding artistic practice, he has questioned the specific properties of an approach rooted simultaneously in a knowledge of tradition and a reassessment of its abandonment by modernism. "What Poulin calls his wish to produce 'difficult objects' refers to those objects of representation uniting the perceptual results on reality of different observation points, which are therefore impossible to 'perceive' at the same time, but which produce mnemonic images that must be interrelated in the construction of a system of representation" (Fernande St-Martin). The primordial, temporal dimension of human experience underlies and validates the work. Concise, dense and minimal, the formas offered to our gaze reveal themselves and take on meaning in the alternation between void (original, absolute) and solid (transformed matter).

For me, meaning never comes before experience. I am not interested in offering viewers an experience in which they are subdued by the work because they are outmatched by its scale: the work is on their scale. They can participate, experience these sculptures, stop, and be in a state of attention or active contemplation while moving around the object. It has been said of my sculptures: “They are slow sculptures”. They don’t come to us; we have to go to them, we have to experience them. It’s a temporal experience, one that takes place over time and appeals to all the senses.

These remarks by Roland Poulin are excerpts from interviews with the artist during the preparation of the MACM exhibition.


 © Roland Poulin 2017. All rights reserved.