For his first solo exhibition in Canada, the French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel is presenting a series of recent works on the theme of storms and the violence of the elements. His Tornadoes in chromed aluminum or mirror-polished stainless steel are suspended in space like mobiles, surrounding those who approach them. His sensitivity to the realities of the natural world can also be seen in his black ink paintings on white gold leaf. While more subdued than his earlier works created with coloured blown-glass beads, such as the Peony Knot acquired by the MMFA in 2016 and displayed in the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, they are just as marvelous.
Nathalie Bondil, Director General and Chief Curator, MMFA, explains: “Seeing Jean-Michel’s latest production during a recent visit to his Paris studio, I wanted to invite him back to the Museum. I was impressed by the graphic power of his tornadoes and waves… a humble homage to mighty Nature and the violence of the elements in these precariously balanced sculptures.”
Born in 1964 in Saint-Étienne, France, Othoniel has been creating in a wide range of techniques for over 30 years. “An exceptionally versatile creator – choreography, drawing, writing, installation, performance, photography and sculpture – Jean-Michel Othoniel stands apart for his highly poetic imagination. In his view, the signature beauty and marvelousness of his works are not an aesthetic feature but a necessary condition for their existence. He uses beauty as a weapon in addressing serious and societal themes, fully embracing this genre,” adds Diane Charbonneau, curator of the exhibition and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Decorative Arts, MMFA.