Montreal artist Pascal Grandmaison has been selected as the winner of a Canada-wide art competition held recently by Concordia.
Four shortlisted artists, including Grandmaison, were invited to present proposals for the renovated lobby of the university’s administrative hub, the Guy-Metro (GM) Building. In the end, Grandmaison’s bold photographic reimagining of brain activity won over the selection committee.
“I’m very pleased to have won this project,” says Grandmaison from Paris, where he is currently installing a new exhibition. “The new lobby will be very active and a lot of people will see the work.”
Grandmaison says the piece, titled Lumière Interieur, represents the nerve activity behind the transformation of information in a human brain. He adds that when people walk by the work in the GM lobby, they will perceive the image as the product of a zoom lens or microscope that reveals the intellectual activity being created in the university.
Mounted within a state-of-the-art light box, the artwork will consist of a collage of thousands of different images of light flashes contained within a defined space. “It proposes to illustrate the idea of the transmission of knowledge in its most pure expression,” Grandmaison writes in his proposal.
The piece will be installed and revealed to the public as soon as the work of refurbishing the lobby is complete.
François Morelli, a professor in Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts and a member of the selection committee, said he and the other committee members chose Grandmaison’s work for its boldness and its relevance in relation to what happens at the university.
“Pascal was really examining how the brain operates, and how the currents work in the brain,” he says. With the idea of a university as a place of knowledge, a place to scrutinize and fabricate knowledge in new ways, this works not only as an aesthetic piece, but I think actually contributes to the production of knowledge in its own right.”
Grandmaison’s piece is not aggressive, Morelli insists, but with its bright colours, it’s a vivid presence that will be difficult to ignore. “We hope that it will be somewhat of a signature piece for the university,” he says. “We understand that space to be the gateway to the university, and when you’re confronted by that image, I think it will work well.”
Concordia’s Director of Special Projects and Cultural Affairs Clarence Epstein chaired the selection committee, which also included Geneviève Cadieux, an artist and professor of photography at Concordia; Marianne McKenna, a partner in KPMB Architects, the firm that redesigned the GM Building, and John Zeppetelli, curator at the DHC/Art Foundation for Contemporary Art.
While there were other strong proposals, “we were impressed by Pascal’s work by virtue of its dynamism. It is just such a strong statement,” Epstein says. “The message, the composition, the colour, the audacity, the link between the university and an artist’s vision of the university, he hit all the points.”
The four shortlisted artists were each given $3,000 to develop a proposal for the space. Grandmaison will receive a budget of $75,000 to create and install the piece.
The three other shortlisted artists were: David Elliott, an associate professor of painting and drawing in Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts; Germaine Koh, a Vancouver-based conceptual artist; and David Armstrong Six, a Montreal-based installation artist and sculptor currently working from Berlin.
• GM Building public art competition
• “Calling all Canadian artists” — NOW, May 8, 2012
• Pascal Grandmaison
• David Elliott
• Germaine Koh
• David Armstrong Six