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Violette Dionne
From April 30th 1988 to May 22nd 1988
Travers saint

“Since there is no way of classifying saints according to their saintliness, we shall have to content ourselves with calling saints (…) all those who had the honour, for whatever reason, of being represented in Christian monuments by Christian artists”.
- Marcel Pacaut, L’iconographie chrétienne, coll. Qui sais-je ?, Paris, PUF, 1952, p.96.

Some saints would seem to have had grave failings before becoming saints: other, whose saintliness is hard to see given their banal or bizarre lives, appear rather silly.

Violette Dionne was born in 1959, just in time to brighten up, with her first smiles, the thundering declarations of the Quiet Revolution.

It was the era in which religion was buried. From these burial grounds the artist has fashioned her statuettes, at once pious and fantastical representations of the ancient Heaven.

Three ages are represented: the red age, that of ceramic, comparable perhaps to the golden age of Hesiod; the white age, that of the hydrocal; and lastly, the hardest age, ours, the concrete age.

Some writers, imaginary hagiographers no doubt, place the life of each saint- false martyrs and sensual virgins alike- into a kind of Golden Legend of our times.

Be that as it may, this stony assembly had to be housed; for want of a church, they were accommodated by a gallery. Temporarily, the saints were placed on tables; work was started on a model cathedral; utopian portals were made, opening, however, on nothing save that which walls us all in, initiates and visitors alike.

Here, no one is obliged to pray. Refrain, however, from laughing ostentatiously; men are forbidden to utter blasphemies out loud, to chew tobacco or to spit on the floor; décolletés and mini-skirts are tolerated.
- François Hébert (translated by Jeffrey Moore)

All of these hard bodies were extracted from the mould of sainthood: they are therefore fitted with a thick halo, round like a ring. It is a handle that can be used to lift them up and transport them from one place to another. On this gigantic chessboard, the saint keeps watch, impassive to change, a monolith, whose hands, normally more voluble, indeed vulgar, blend in with the rest. Any peculiarities- flaws in the perfection, perhaps- will therefore only emerge gradually from the uniformity of the whole. Everything points to the fact that we are not in the presence of conventional beings, as traditional Christian iconography would have it, but rather of a collection of idiosyncrasies, the artist’s celebration of folly in particular.
- Violette Dionne (translated by Jeffrey Moore)

Launching of the catalogue and round table:
“L’hagiographie cuite” is published by Garamond du Rosseau Editions, 1988. This collection contains texts by Shalom Aléikoum, Bernard Andrès, Gilles Archambault, Julien Bigras, Normand Biron, Claude Bouchard, Violette Dionne, Brenda Dunn-Lardeau, Célyne Fortin, François Hébert, Jean-Pierre Issenhuth, Alexis Klimov, Nathalie Labrecque, Benoit Lacroix, André Major, Jean Marcel, Bruno Roy, Pierre Turgeon and a foreword by Louise Poissant.

The round table will consist of Violette Dionne, Brenda Dunn-Lardeau (editor of “Legenda aurea: sept siècles de diffusion, Bellamin, 1986) and Benoit Lacroix (medievalist) and is intended to develop different points of view concerning the exhibition.
- Press release (Optica)

Bélanger, Judith, « 3 expositions: C'est ma tournée ». Voir, 5-11 mai 1988, p. 13.
Villeneuve, Paul, « À la Galerie Optica: "Travers Saints" ou la sainte revue par Violette Dionne ». Journal de Montréal, Samedi 14 mai 1988.