Art in the REM: First three works and their artists are announced
The first three works of art that will be installed in the REM stations, and their creators, were announced today. They include the artwork of David Armstrong VI, Chih-Chien Wang and Manuel Mathieu for the Brossard, Panama and Édouard-Montpetit stations.
The “UniR” art program
The REM public art program, named “UniR”, draws its inspiration from the union of art, transit users and the neighbourhoods served by the REM. The first artworks will be installed as of 2023.
Here are the first three permanent works to be installed in the REM network.
- Artist: David Armstrong VI
- Artwork: les passagers
- Details and installation: Diptych – two sculptures, each near one of the entrances to the Brossard terminal station.
- Materials and dimensions: Cast bronze, patina, paint. More than four metres high.
- Installation timeline: 2023
About the artist: David Armstrong VI
Originally from Ontario, David Armstrong VI lives and works in Montréal. His works are an intuitive fusion of forms, textures, colours and objects. As spectators, we are drawn beyond a single vantage point to his work and are compelled to approach his sculptures from different angles to appreciate the multiple facets of the volumes and materials at play.
ⓒ photo : Simon Belleau
About the artwork: les passagers
For the Brossard station, David Armstrong VI has created a set of two sculptures (diptych) named les passagers. The artist is intrigued by the very essence of travelling by train.
This diptych combines aggregates of cast bronze, undulating ribbons and alternating vibrant colours, pulling our gaze between reality and an interpretation of the interlaced forms.
In the artist’s vision, these two plant-like and animal-like figures, but also clearly human with their suitcase or backpack, belong both to the past and the future. David Armstrong VI has sculpted the undulating forms as if they were alive. It could be believed that the forms are like two fearless travellers from another time, swept along by a force in perpetual movement.
“In contemplating the site at one end of the REM’s Brossard station, I found comfort in the multitude of artistic anecdotes and philosophical reflections inspired by this unique, yet daily, experience of train travel.”
- David Armstrong VI
- Artist : Chih-Chien Wang
- Artwork : Un voyage sans fin au-delà du présent
- Details and installation: Photographic exhibition in one of the interior corridors of the Panama station.
- Materials and dimensions: Photographs on eight glass panels, mounted on a light box, metal structure. 1380 cm x 400 cm.
- Installation timeline: 2023
About the artist: Chih-Chien Wang
Chih-Chien Wang is a Taiwanese artist who has been living in Montréal since 2002. His work explores the poetry of everyday experience and showcases ordinary moments in life that reflect his understanding of the people, the society and the space with which he coexists. His images evoke a fragility in things, an archaeology of the present moment, in which Wang questions life and death.
About the artwork: Un voyage sans fin au-delà du présent
Chih-Chien Wang is very familiar with the neighbourhood around the Panama station. He visits it regularly and views it as a journey through the various dialects, cultures and culinary specialities. It is like a physical and metaphorical portal allowing him to navigate time and the seasons.
To pay homage to his roots and this site that is so particular, Wang dove into his own aerial photographs taken when he was travelling by plane from Montréal to other countries. To these, he has interspersed photographs shot in his Montréal studio of dust particles caught up in the wind.
The spectator travels therefore from the micro to the macro, from the infinitely small to the infinitely vast. From the personal to the universal.
“When we are travelling, we ask ourselves where we are heading and what we have left behind. Are we going toward a job, a school or a friend? Are we going toward a future where the past gradually transforms into an opaque presence where only a bright light can open a portal that penetrates into another space-time reality?”
- Chih-Chien Wang
- Artist: Manuel Mathieu
- Artwork: Le Mont habité
- Details and installation: Eight large mosaic panels integrated with the walls of the long mezzanine corridor, various dimensions.
- Installation timeline: 2024
About the artist: Manuel Mathieu
Born in Haiti, Manuel Mathieu is a multidisciplinary artist based in Montréal. Influenced by his cultural heritage, his vibrant, expressive and colourful paintings and sculptures merge abstraction and figuration. They evoke forms in movement, his own emotions and personal memories associated with his homeland.
ⓒ photo : Daniel Gurton, Courtesy the artist and Pilar Corrias
About the artwork: Le Mont habité
Before fully embarking on his artistic career, Manuel Mathieu studied at the HEC Montréal, in the neighbourhood of the Édouard-Montpetit station, which will be the deepest subway station in Canada (more than 70 metres). Its architectural treatment will highlight the rock (gabbro) through which the station was excavated.
Manuel Mathieu took inspiration from it. He focused on the minute details and layers of a blade of gabbro that are visible under a microscope. He points to something that is more ancient than we are, and that will disappear after we do: the rock’s strength, its timeless nature, its geological heritage. His work is inspired by the fragments of memories we have as passengers, of the exterior world, before plunging into the station.
The format of his mosaic panels reminds us of the minuscule space we occupy in nature. His materials and colours reflect studies of the various analyses and samples of gabbro that led him to his mosaic experiments and, naturally, the force of the pictorial gesture that characterizes his artwork.
“To underscore the timeless essence of this project, an association with nature is inevitable. The images will be of idyllic environments; a harmony of paint, watercolour and collage. They will elicit fragments of memories of the landscapes left outside the station, remaining on the surface. The elements contributing to this new environment will become the landscape of our minds and end up existing in our imagination.”
– Manuel Mathieu
In the coming months, the artists will work with various partners to complete their artwork.
- David Armstrong VI is working with Atelier du Bronze in Inverness, Quebec. His two sculptures, named les passagers, will be installed at the Brossard station in the summer of 2023.
- The photographic work of Chih-Chien Wang, Un voyage sans fin au-delà du présent, in the Panama station, will be developed at Laurier Architectural and installed by Vitreco, also in the summer of 2023.
- Le Mont habité by Manuel Mathieu will be created at the Mosaika workshop during 2023, to be ready when the Édouard-Montpetit station opens to the public.
A cultural mediation program will take shape with the communities around the future stations that will host these magnificent permanent works of art.
In total, the REM will display about a dozen works of art in its network. The selection process for the remaining artwork continues.