Manuel Mathieu: World Discovered Under Other Skies

Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University

Manuel Mathieu, Zapruder/313, 2016, acrylic, tape, charcoal, chalk and oil sticks on canvas, Collection of Loulou Fonteyne

Manuel Mathieu: World Discovered Under Other Skies

October 7 – December 10, 2023
Curator: Amin Alsaden
Circulated by The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery

Manuel Mathieu is known for vibrant, colourful paintings that seamlessly merge abstraction with figuration. His work reflects on our intertwined lives, in which the boundaries between the past and present or the personal and political are often blurred. Sharing recollections that depict everyday scenes, Mathieu also blends into his canvases an interrogation of the complex history of his familial homeland, Haiti. By unearthing the traumas of state violence, he addresses issues that remain as urgent today as they have been throughout Haitian history.

This exhibition features a collection of new and past works—including paintings, drawings, and ceramics—shedding light on Haiti’s relationship to the world. Positioned at the fault lines of modern political and environmental crises, Haiti epitomizes a global longing for liberation, and grassroots resistance to imperialist and capitalist exploits. At the centre of this exhibition is an examination of the long-lasting repercussions of Haiti’s pioneering revolt—launched in 1791, challenging slavery and colonialism—and its quest for self-determination, which have led in more recent decades to embroiling the nation in the intrigues of the Cold War. In Zapruder/313 (2016), Mathieu borrows from footage capturing the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy to raise questions about American support of Haiti’s ruthless dictatorships in pursuit of neo-colonial interests.

Other paintings delve into memories of the Duvalier dictatorships (1957-1986) to bring harrowing incidents back into contemporary consciousness. Fort Dimanche 2 (2017) hints at the atrocities committed at the infamous prison where countless political opponents vanished. Mathieu’s work is a reminder that commemorating the tragedies of the past does not fall solely on the shoulders of a nation’s local or diasporic communities. Instead, it is part of our collective responsibility. His works suggest a distinct understanding of Haiti’s history—a history defined by global currents, which occasionally collide to erupt in frenzied episodes of mass violence. Mathieu, therefore, proposes that the dynamics of the world might manifest themselves in one place, like Haiti. Underlining common links and struggles that unite us despite national borders, he invites us to enter a world discovered under other skies.

This exhibition is initiated, organized, and circulated by The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto; ​sponsored by the TD Ready Commitment; and​ supported by Lead Donors Steven and Lynda Latner and Major Donors Fonds Hamelys, Pamela J. Joyner, and Jay Smith and Laura Rapp.

We would like to acknowledge that the Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University, is located within the traditional territory of Mi’kma’ki, the unceded ancestral homelands of the Mi’kmaq. Our relationship and our privilege to live on this territory was agreed upon in the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1725 to 1752. Because of this treaty relationship, it is to be acknowledged that we are all Treaty People and have a responsibility to respect this territory.

Owens Art Gallery
Mount Allison University
61 York Street Sackville, NB, E4L 1E1 • 506-364-2574
owens@mta.ca
www.owensartgallery.com
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Monday to Friday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday, 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Admission is Free

The Owens is partially accessible. The stairs from the entrance nearest the University Chapel have a handrail. There is also ramp access at this entrance, however, the ramp is steep. The stairs to the entrance off York Street have a handrail, but no ramp, and are covered with temporary wood treads. The main floor of the Owens is wheelchair accessible. Our second-floor gallery and gendered bathrooms are located in the basement and are not accessible. Two flights of stairs lead to each of these floors. LED lights are used throughout the building. The Owens welcomes guide dogs and other service animals. The closest accessible parking spaces are located on York Street across from the Owens. For detailed information on venue access, please visit our Accessibility page.

COVID-19 Information
The Mount Allison University campus continues to have COVID-19 health and safety measures in place. During your visit at the Owens Art Gallery:

  • Masks are welcome
  • Free disposable masks are available
  • Hand sanitizer is available throughout the gallery
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home and plan your visit for another time

If you would like to visit the Owens at a quieter time, or when all staff and visitors are masked, private visits can be arranged from 9:00-10:00 am on weekdays.

If you have any questions about your visit, please email owens@mta.ca or call (506) 364-2574.