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Léopold L. Foulem Singularities

May 16, 2013 to January 5, 2014

"I believe that authentic art is a matter of concepts, certainly not of the means of expression or of style,or even of execution. My work in ceramics expresses ideas. My artistic production has nothing to do with individual expression or a quest for beauty. I see myself as a composer and a theorist, not as a virtuoso."

– Léopold L. Foulem

Léopold L. Foulem has exhibited his work in more than 40 solo shows and his career is now in its fifth decade. He is undoubtedly the best-known Canadian ceramist on the international scene. His rigorous and uncompromising artistic project, whose arsenal includes humour, irony and provocation, is a constant claim for the recognition of ceramics as a sovereign art form.

With Léopold L. Foulem: Singularities, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec presents the first true retrospective devoted to this artist who places ceramics – as a discipline and not as a material – at the centre of his concerns. “Matter doesn’t matter,” Léopold Foulem asserts. Within the discipline, some techniques are viewed as superior to others, but Foulem thumbs his nose at this supposed superiority of one material or technique over another by using objects found by chance in second-hand stores or in everyday life.

Foulem’s base material is not so much clay as it is this history of ceramics. By revisiting and parodying several genres and forms he puts ceramics on the pedestal of tradition, but with a highly contemporary touch, which constantly destabilises its basis.

Since the 1980s, Léopold L. Foulem has explored the conceptual potential of ceramics, the movement from use to intellect, and the transformation of objects into images. To do so, he has worked with negative forms, containers with no inside surface, solidified voids and surfaces which play on the third dimension. He thus calls into question our manner of perceiving the object and our propensity always to privilege what it says rather than the history of the object itself.

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    Léopold L. Foulem, Mille Fleurs Flower Vase with Neoclassical Handles, 2004. Ceramic, 24.9 x 23 x 10.2 cm. Coll. of Marie-Paule Foulem

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    Léopold L. Foulem, A Hard Man Is Good to Find, 1996-97. Ceramic, found objects, 37 x 15 x 15 cm. Coll. of the artist

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    Léopold L. Foulem, Bouquet aux arums blancs dans un vase monté, 2007-8. Ceramic, found objects, 27.5 x 28.2 x 20.5 cm. Coll. of the artist

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    Léopold L. Foulem, Théière avec armature gothique, 1990. Ceramic, found object, 33.8 x 19.8 x 14.2 cm. MNBAQ coll.

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    Léopold L. Foulem, Adonis au jardin, 2011. Ceramic, found objects, 21.8 x 27.5 x 14 cm. Coll. of the artist

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    Léopold L. Foulem, Théière, 1988. Ceramic on wire netting. Size? Coll. of the artist 

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    Léopold L. Foulem, Jewish Banana No. 2, from the series Showy Bananas, 1976. Ceramic, mixed media, found objects, 20 x 23 x 11 cm. Coll. of the artist

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    Léopold L. Foulem, Adeline Collection, 2009. Bronze, found object, 23.5 x 32.5 x 17 cm. Coll. of the artist

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    Léopold L. Foulem, Returning from Brokeback Mountain, 2006-7. Ceramic, found objects, 45.7 x 16.5 x 16.5 cm. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, Toronto


Léopold L. Foulem

Photo de Léo L. Foulem

Born in 1945 in Caraquet, New Brunswick, Léopold L. Foulem holds a master’s degree in visual arts from the University of Indiana. As a public speaker and author, he is known for his views on the importance of a discourse unique to the discipline. An acknowledged expert on Pablo Picasso’s ceramics, in 2004 he co-curated the exhibition Picasso and Ceramics, co-organized by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. He received the Jean A. Chalmers National Crafts Award in 1999 and, in 2001, the Saidye Bronfman Award in recognition of excellence in the fine crafts (today one of the Governor General’s awards in visual and media arts). In 2003, he received the Éloizes Award for artist of the year in the visual arts in Acadia. He divides his time between his studios in Montréal and Caraquet. His work can be found in several prestigious collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Los Angeles County Museum, and is included in major international exhibitions.