October 10, 2019 to January 5, 2020
QUÉBEC CITY, Oct. 9, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ - Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) is proud to shine a spotlight on Québec artists who have made their mark on Canadian art history. With COZIC—Over to You: From 1967 to Now, from October 10, 2019, to January 5, 2020, MNBAQ presents the first-ever COZIC retrospective by a major public art gallery.
COZIC is an intriguing name. It stands out. Who is this COZIC? The artistic entity was dreamed up by Monic Brassard (born in Québec in 1944) and Yvon Cozic (born in France in 1942), who met at École des beaux-arts de Montréal in the 1960s. It's a two-headed creation for four hands, a slap in the face of the myth of the individual artist as sine qua non. COZIC is also a key figure in Québec contemporary art.
COZIC emerged with the counterculture and the generation of artists associated with the Quiet Revolution, playing a pivotal role in breaking down the walls between visual art disciplines in the province. COZIC broke free of the traditional media that are painting and sculpture to disrupt the very idea of a work of art, reflecting changing practices in Québec, Canadian, and international contemporary art. COZIC has staked out an artistic turf all its own with its playful approach and the use of novel, quirky materials.
MNBAQ pays tribute to 50 years of bold and unbridled fantasy with this major retrospective of COZIC's timeless oeuvre in the temporary exhibit halls of the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion. A hundred essential works from 1967 to the present day have been gathered together for the public to discover and explore, including a number of participative pieces to touch, go through, decode or feel. A world that's off its rocker in a flood-tide of creativity to embrace. Over to us!
COZIC, or Bringing Art and Life Together
COZIC's work is mind-bogglingly multifaceted. Year in, year out, it has revealed a fascinating ability to reinvent itself. Series of works emerge from "obsessions," marked by major shifts in aesthetic direction. COZIC never seems to be where you expected.
Unlike so many artists, who pick one medium and spend their whole careers on it, COZIC shook off all constraints early on to enthusiastically embrace a multidisciplinary approach. There came works in fabric, plinthless sculpture of mixed materials, and elaborate origami in paper and vinyl. The use of lowbrow and commonplace materials like fleece, vinyl, lumber, cardboard, Styrofoam, and feathers—all assembled by hand—gives this polymorphous body of work a solid anchorage in the everyday. The notion of play so close to COZIC's heart opens its work up to multiple levels of interpretation. The senses are challenged, as is the status of the work of art itself. Does a created object have to cultivate distance with its audience to be considered a work of art? Does a monochrome in fabric have less artistic value than a painting on canvas? Can a work in an art gallery appeal to senses other than that of sight? Over to us for those questions as well.
COZIC: A Rich, Flamboyant World
The exhibition, which is laid out chronologically, retraces the main cycles of COZIC's creativity. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore the tandem's seminal works, from soft art to folding and origami—marked by the celebrated Cocotte—to the Code Couronne ("Crown Code") project.
The first section presents a number of series produced in the 1960s and 70s, establishing the duo's avant-garde credentials in those days of artistic ferment and transformation. The works here are sewn—a technique largely snubbed by the fine arts—using flexible materials such as vinyl, fabric, and fake fur. They break convention in their occupation of space, abandoning the rigidity of painting and sculpture. With their brightly coloured industrial materials, they show affinities with the pop-art and other contemporary movements such as anti-form. Complexe mammaire ("mammary complex," 1970), Surface qui vous prend dans ses bras ("surface that takes you in its arms," 1972) and the Surface versus Cylinder series (1973-1976) are some eloquent pieces from this period.
The second section takes the audience back to the late 1970s and early 1980s, when COZIC turned away from soft art to explore something new: the technique of appropriation. The accidental rediscovery of the simple origami hens, or cocottes, they had made as children led the duo in a new direction. COZIC spent an entire year making "cocottes" out of found pieces of paper—including the emblematic A Cocotte a Day Keeps the Obsession on the Way (1978)—eventually building an entire catalogue based on this form, which became a kind of artistic signature. COZIC's fascination with folding continued through the 1980s and yielded astonishing results. Grand pliage in situ ("great in situ folding") was created specially for the Over to You retrospective and its audience. In a nod to history, this ephemeral mural recalls an art performance held 40 years ago at the former Musée du Québec, now MNBAQ.
The third section is made up of sculpture, mainly created in the early 1990s, and highlights COZIC's interest in the occupation of space, recovered materials, and manual production. A series of lighted works and balanced installations in metal, wood, feathers, fabric, and other materials seem to float in the exhibition space. These include Le Grand Arc (1994), Objects in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear (1991), and Mise en plis (1991). Another series on the act of looking—a favourite subject of COZIC's from the beginning—rounds out the striking experience of this space.
The last section of Over to You presents works from the last two decades. Other than the major Code Couronne series—a chromatic experiment exploring the idea of the codification of written language—the works tackle themes such as spirituality, metaphysics, and the mysteries of the universe, raising fundamental questions that belie the kitsch-inflected surface appearance, as in La Forêt de Brocéliande ("Brocéliande forest," 2004), Le Trou noir (2016) or VOLCANOS (2018).
Another space, inspired by COZIC's studio, has been set up to provide a glimpse into Brassard and Cozic's teeming creative imagination. A hundred-odd small statues, curiosities, found objects, assemblies, posters, and archival materials, all on loan from the artists, are scattered about, immersing audiences in COZIC's fascinating world.
New: an audio visit with COZIC
An original audio visit, in French only, will also be available to enhance the visitor experience at COZIC—Over to You: From 1967 to Now. Join Brassard and Cozic to explore the exhibition and the overarching themes of their artistic practice. Their colourful stories and accounts are both spontaneous and thoughtful, providing an inimitable ringside perspective on half a century of life in art—and a deeper understanding of just how much COZIC has contributed to contemporary art in Québec.
COZIC — Over to You: From 1967 to Now runs October 10, 2019, to January 5, 2020. A production of MNBAQ, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.
Ariane De Blois
Scénographie et graphisme
Scenography and Design
The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec is a state corporation funded by the Gouvernement du Québec.
COZIC - Over to You: From 1967 to Now
Pierre Lassonde Pavilion of the MNBAQ
October 10, 2019 to January 5, 2020
SOURCE Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
For further information: 418 643-2150 or 1 866 220-2150 / mnbaq.org