Jean-Pierre Gauthier makes a generous gift to AGNS

December 21, 2009 - HALIFAX, NS - The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is pleased to announce that Jean-Pierre Gauthier, upon a visit to Halifax for the opening of his exhibition, offered his piece, Le Cagibi, as a gift to the collection of the Gallery. This piece is one of ten installations with the exhibition, Machines At Play, which is being featured at the AGNS as part of an international tour. This exhibition is organized and circulated by the Musée d'art contemporain de Montreal. The tour of the exhibition has been made possible with the financial support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through its Museums Assistance Program.

Le Cagibi, 2006 (The Janitor's Room)  is a large installation work that resembles just that, a janitor's room, was created after the 2000 work entitled Le Grand Menage, or The BigCleanup. Underlying the various components of Le Cagibi - its dirty sink and cleaning products, the photos of constellations, the wall through which a body has apparently been forced - is an obscure narrative that seems to be about work, a recurring theme in Gauthier's œuvre.

"Jean-Pierre Gauthier is one of this country's top contemporary artists, and we're absolutely thrilled to add Le Cagibi to our permanent collection," says Ray Cronin, Director of the AGNS. "This wonderful gift is a remarkable testament to Jean-Pierre's generosity, and to his appreciation of Atlantic Canada. I have worked with Jean-Pierre since 2002 and have always found it to be a pleasure - with Le Cagibi joining The Race in our permanent collection I look forward to that working relationship continuing for years to come."

The exhibition opening for members, media and invited guests took place at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 1723 Hollis Street, in Halifax, NS, on Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 7:30 PM.

For images available to media, please see the event slideshow

The exhibition is open to the public from Friday, December 18, 2009 to March 15, 2010.

About Jean-Pierre Gauthier: Machines at Play
The exhibition, on view at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia from December 18, 2009 until March 15, 2010, features 10 works of elaborate kinetic and sound installations (the following works have French titles, here they are provided in English). The Sound of Things - Semaphores and Brooms, 2003, includes microphones and amplifiers that capture the actual sounds being produced by its' movement, which is triggered by motion detectors. Motion detection plays a key role in most of the works, including Beats and Butterflies, 2006; Le LeCagibi, 2006; Songs/Fields of Work, 2006; and the series of three Uncertainty Markers, 2006. These works, The Spider,The Cockroach, and The Skater, create murals on the walls of the gallery, drawn by machines as viewers move through the space. Another series of three, Angular Moments, 2008, produces unusual sounds through movement, as the suspended large-scale geometric pieces twist and float in mid-air.

"It is always a delight to show Jean-Pierre's work at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. I consider him to be one of the most thoughtful and provocative artists working in Canada today," says Sarah Fillmore, AGNS Chief Curator. "Machines At Play draws from the best of Jean-Pierre's work to date. The sights and sounds of his work will appeal to tinkerers, scientists, musicians, builders and art enthusiasts alike."

Born of his fascination with the sound-producing and metaphorical potential of found objects, Jean-Pierre Gauthier's kinetic installations incorporate humour and poetry. With rare ingenuity, his works embody contrasting ideas such as order and chaos, permanence and fragility, orchestration and randomness.

Gauthier's installations have an odd effect on the viewer. Their open layout encourages circulation, making the visitor part of the dynamic of the space. Yet at the same time, their busyness can create a sense of anxiety and even exclusion.  The sound dimension of the installations, which shatters normal museum silence, generates a desire to either talk or listen. While the machines conceal nothing - all the components are clearly visible and easily identifiable - they nevertheless suggest things that are not there.

These composite installations produce a wide range of visual, kinetic and auditory stimuli, resulting in an intense, almost dizzying experience. It is this feeling of vertigo, almost exultation, that embodies the power of Gauthier's works.

Gauthier was born in 1965 in Matane, Quebec. He lives and works in Montreal.  His work has been exhibited throughout Canada, the United States and Europe. He was awarded the prestigious Sobey Art Award in 2004 and received the Victor-Martyn-Lynch-Staunton Award, presented by the Canada Council for the Arts, to a mid-career artist, in 2005.

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