At 33, Manuel Mathieu can boast of being the first black Canadian artist, one of whose works was acquired by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA). However, bragging is not at all the genre of the internationally renowned artist.
The one who inaugurates this month his first museum solo on Canadian soil with “Survivance”, at the MMFA, wishes instead to commit to representing artists from black communities and from diverse backgrounds in the visual arts sector, too homogeneous to his taste.
“It’s very recent that there are blacks in shopping malls. I would say it started less than five years ago, ”he noted.
The museum bought his painting “Self-portrait” in 2017, giving the painter a reputation that he hopes he can use to help other artists.
“I feel I have a responsibility. On the one hand, I must admit that I am a little disappointed to be the first Haitian-Canadian [dont une oeuvre est achetée par le MBAM]… Quebec and Haiti have a long history already and I believe that this should have happened before, ”he said on Tuesday during the media preview of the exhibition.
“On the other hand, I’m happy to be able to open this door. I have a responsibility because it is important for me to preserve the imagination of my country, a bit like the writer Dany Laferrière does, because he tells stories that are intimately linked to his universe and his universe is linked to that of Haiti too, ”he continued.
Manuel Mathieu set up the Marie-Solange Apollon Fund last December, which bears his grandmother’s name, in the hope that it will help the MMFA to acquire works by emerging Quebec and Canadian artists. underrepresented in the museum’s collection.
“I want to make room for other imaginaries. I want there to be parity between men and women, artists under 40. I want young people to see that they are able to create in a space like this, ”he said.
“The artists are not all in the street! I want to project the image of a prolific, articulate, intelligent artist who lives off what he does. As an artist, we have a lot to say and to communicate. Art connects to everyone, ”continued the painter.
At 19, Manuel Mathieu left the pearl of the West Indies and left his suitcases in the metropolis to live there with his grandmother.
Then, he began his university studies at UQÀM with a bachelor’s degree in visual and media arts and flew to London to pursue a master’s degree in fine arts at the prestigious Goldsmiths College, University of London.
His star shines during solo exhibitions in several countries of the world: China, United States, Belgium and England.
Moreover, Manuel Mathieu counts among his famous clients Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Serena Williams.
In April 2020, the artist is co-recipient of the prestigious Sobey Prize for the arts.
Finally, this fall, the man of many talents presents “Survivance”, his first Canadian museum solo. This exhibition, which is entirely devoted to him, will be in residence at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, until March 28, 2021.