Friday, January 11, 2008

African Art and the Cirque du Soleil

Ceremonial mask from the Lower Zaire Region in the Congo, Vili-Yombe tribe, 19th-20th Century.
Wood, pigments and animal skin.
Collection of Cirque du Soleil.

Unexpectedly, on exploring the wonderful Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, I came across a superb small exhibit of African art culled from the collection of the museum, with additions from other collections in Montreal, many of them from the Cirque de Soleil collection. While not an obvious connection, when you look at the sculptures, you can see how they had influenced the imagery that Cirque employs.

I love the Cirque de Soleil, I first saw one of their shows in NYC, years ago, and have vivid memories of it, and made a point of going to Saltimbanco while I was in Montreal. It is wonderful entertainment, with music, movement, incredible acrobatics with terrifying high wire acts and juggling, percussion artists. And beautiful visuals, including two male acrobats who use each other as props to do these amazing positions, erotic and beautiful at the same time. So to see the art that inspired much of the imagery in the show was great. I have enormous respect for Guy Laliberte, who founded Cirque and remains very involved in it. He started buying museum quality works about ten years ago, many from old historic collections, and the pieces are exquisitely beautiful. He loaned 36 objects from his collection to this installation with other objects from the Redpath Museum, which is affiliated with McGill University, and the balance from the Montreal Museum's own collection.

Ceremonial mask, Mbuya, Congo, Tshikopa region, Wester Pende.
19-20th Century, Wood, pigment, and black cords.
Collection of Cirque du Soleil.

Dance Mask: Mwana Pwo
Southern Kasai region, the Congo, Chokwe tribe.
19th - 20th Century, Wood, vegetable fibres, pigments.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

With these galleries of African Art, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts adds depth to the experience of their museum, it is wonderful be able to see such a range of art, the people of Montreal are lucky to have this visual resource to go to. Visit their website for more information on this exhibition and the museum:

1 comment:

Lee said...

I generally like the African Arts very much. It is a treat for the eyes to be watched.