Photography exhibition

Until September 29, 2024

Portraits and Fashion

Quebec Photographers Beyond Borders

From May 31 to September 29, 2024, the McCord Stewart Museum presents Portraits and Fashion Quebec Photographers Beyond Borders, brings together prints by 17 photographers who are shining a spotlight on Quebec talent on the international stage:  Max Abadian, William Arcand, Richard Bernardin, Alex Black, Sacha Cohen, Cristina Gareau, Andréanne Gauthier, Royal Gilbert, Shayne Laverdière, Carl Lessard, Monic Richard, Norman Jean Roy, Étienne Saint-Denis, Nelson Simoneau, Oumayma Ben Tanfous, Xavier Tera and villedepluie.

  • Alex Black, <em>X</em>, Montréal, 2022
  • Andréanne Gauthier, <em>Joaquin Phoenix</em>, Toronto, 2018
  • Carl Lessard, <em>Elipsapie Isaac</em>, Sacacomie, 2010
  • Cristina Gareau, <em>Laurie Boudreault</em>, Tofino, Colombie-Britannique, 2018
  • Étienne Saint Denis, <em>Michaela, Ally, Dreony & Tess, campagne Lecavalier</em>, Montréal, 2020
  • Max Abadian, <em>Isabelle Boulay</em>, Montréal, 2023

17 Quebec photographers

This original exhibition, with its exuberant scenography, features the artistic, editorial and commercial photography that these photographers practice with equal ease and talent, as well as their more personal work. Accustomed to collaborating with major fashion magazines, the advertising world and the music scene, they capture images that are sometimes stripped of all artifice, sometimes sophisticatedly cinematic, but always imbued with great sensitivity towards their models – whether famous or unknown.

In addition to stunning fashion photographs, a gallery of over a hundred unprecedented iconic portraits unfolds before our eyes, from Céline Dion, U2 and Charlotte Cardin to Nelson Mandela, Zidane, Elisapie, Adele, Barbie Ferreira, Mika and Les Louanges. Around twenty videos were created for the occasion, including a multisurface projection by the creative team at Rodeo FX. These contents provide exclusive insight into the artistic methods of the photographers, along with interviews from artists whose portraits are featured in the exhibition.

  • Monic Richard, <em>Leonard Cohen</em>, Montréal, 2001
  • Nelson Simoneau, <em>Winnie Harlow</em>, Toronto, 2017
  • Norman Jean Roy, <em>Joni Mitchell</em>, New York magazine, 2020
  • Oumayma Ben Tafous, <em>Aheem</em>, Brooklyn, New York, 2020
  • Richard Bernardin,<em> Claire Elliot</em>, Habitat 67, Montréal, 2006
  • Royal Gilbert, <em>Mathieu Simoneau & Taja Feistner</em>, toit du Stade Olympique, Montréal, 2019

Curator: Thierry-Maxime Loriot

Thierry-Maxime Loriot curated the various iterations of the travelling exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, which enjoyed historic success, Love Is Love: Wedding Bliss For All à la Jean Paul Gaultier, and JPG from A to Z presented in the French pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai in 2022, for a total of 17 exhibitions dedicated to the enfant terrible of French fashion. He also curated international travelling exhibitions including Peter Lindbergh: A Different Vision on Fashion Photography, two editions of Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists, Thierry Mugler: Couturissime, and Viktor & Rolf Fashion Statements, presented at the Munich Kunsthalle in Germany until October 2024, in addition to writing over fifteen publications to accompany these projects. In 2019, he received the CAFA (Canadian Arts and Fashion Award) Vanguard Award for his significant contributions to the arts and fashion industries. The exhibitions that he has designed and organized have been visited by over 6 million people to date.

“There are many words you could use to describe the work of these 17 artists, portraitists and fashion photographers. But they all have one thing in common: Quebec. Whether they’re from Tunisia or Iran, the Laurentians or Montérégie, whether they’re being discovered or rediscovered, they’ve developed their singular creativity and aesthetic vision in Quebec, before exporting their work and establishing themselves as essential players on today’s international scene. For some, Quebec’s photography schools and then its fashion and publishing microcosm have been a springboard to major capitals like New York, London, Paris, Los Angeles and Tokyo, and from there their images have made their way into the most prestigious magazines.”
– Thierry-Maxime Loriot

  • Sacha Cohen, <em>Barbie Ferreira</em>, Los Angeles, 2023
  • Shayne Laverdière, <em>Xavier Dolan</em>, L’Uomo Vogue, Paris, 2014
  • villedepluie, <em>Hubert Lenoir</em>, Foufounes Électriques, Montréal, 2018
  • William Arcand, <em>Mika Santos & Seid Mahamat</em>, Vogue Hong Kong, Londres, 2023
  • Xavier Tera, <em>Marina</em>, Japon, 2020

Fashion photography at the Museum

This project follows on from several previous fashion photography exhibitions at the McCord Stewart Museum, including Horst: Photographer of Style (2015) and Norman Parkinson: Always in Style (2024), reflecting its mission to examine the different forms of artistic expression that can be found in Montreal and beyond, both in the past and today. It also resonates with the remarkable Photography and Dress, Fashion and Textiles collections, which position the Museum as a North American benchmark in these fields of collecting and museology.

More about the photographers

Max Abadian

Born in Tehran, Iran, lives in Los Angeles, United States

As a child growing up in Tehran, Max Abadian would flip through his mother’s fashion magazines. When he turned ten, he received a camera and began documenting his life in Iran. He later immigrated to Germany as a teenager before moving to Montréal, where he studied photography at Dawson College.

Abadian has collaborated with a large number of magazines and also artists. He has worked with Iggy Azalea and Marie-Mai and designed several album covers, including the one for Lady Gaga’s The Remix. According to Isabelle Boulay, who was photographed by the artist for her 2023 album Les chevaux du plaisir [The Horses of Pleasure], [translation] “photography is the divinatory art of seeing ‘beyond.’ It is the gift of making visible the part of the other that we call mystery. Max has this gift.”

Academy Award-winning actresses such as Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence and Jane Fonda have all been magnified in a timeless fashion by the photographer known for his “sublimated and casual” style. One of Abadian’s images of actress Nicole Kidman was shown at the Schiaparelli retrospective in Paris in 2022.

William Arcand

Born in Montréal, lives in London (United Kingdom)

William Arcand is a largely self-taught photographer and director. In his early twenties, he abandoned his studies because he was convinced that his ideas could interest magazines. Considering Montréal to be the artistic springboard for his career, he explains that the distinctive portraits that have become his signature were initially the result of an intuitive exploration. His work paved the way for him to design the cover of the prestigious Rolling Stone magazine with Ncuti Gatwa, and also to collaborate with artists such as Kaytranada, CRi, Charlotte Cardin, and Jean-Michel Blais.

While Arcand’s work in general expresses a delicate balance between sensitivity and energy, he considers that each his series differ from the others in colour and ambiance. His images, many of which are characterized by a palette of lively acid colours or pastels that, in his view, create harmony between contemporary and nostalgia, have catapulted him on the world stage, allowing him to collaborate with many brands, among them Chanel, Calvin Klein, Kenzo, Levi’s, Zara, Ray-Ban, and Palm Angels. His photographic series published in magazines such as GQ and Vogue have earned him several awards, including one from the Art Directors Club in 2020.

Oumayma Ben Tanfous

Born in Tunis, Tunisia, lives in Montreal

Oumayma Ben Tanfous takes her inspiration from her experiences and her travels. A large part of her work is about recording the dynamics within communities. She is interested in the process of gatherings—whether they are of families defined by their inherent values, or of communities and people whose differences can be celebrated and made visible within society. Sensitivity, humanity and self-affirmation are the values sought by the photographer in her work as she explores a multitude of perspectives.

Ben Tanfous grew up as an immigrant who, like most of her friends, did not identify with the mainstream media. When she discovered photography at the age of 14, it seemed natural to capture the world as it appeared around her. Her distinctive style and original subjects have attracted the attention of magazines like Vogue and Dazed, the Le Monde newspaper, as well as companies such as Apple, Converse and Levi’s. In July 2022, the Tunisian-Canadian photographer was nominated among the “Ones to Watch” by the prestigious British Journal of Photography.

Richard Bernardin

Born in Chicago, Illinois, lives in Montreal

Richard Bernardin is a photographer of Haitian origin who was born in the United States before moving with his family to Trois-Rivières. As a child, he dreamed of becoming an architect and loved science fiction and comic books where women rescue the superhero and stop the villain. He was introduced to artistic photography during his teenage years through the images of Helmut Newton.

There are two things he is most passionate about in his work: to sublimate women and to incorporate architecture into his art. The cubes of Habitat 67 by Moshe Safdie, a California home designed by John Lautner and the Empire State Building all hold an equally important place as subjects in his pictures. A firm believer that fashion photography has the power to transcend borders and cultures and to bring together people from all backgrounds, Bernardin considers that each picture tells the story of a vision about the world. Having produced photography series for magazines such as Elle, Vogue and Rolling Stone, he feels that the representation of diversity in the fashion industry is a crucial aspect of his work whose importance must be conveyed to future generations.

Alex Black

Born in Montreal, lives in Paris (France) and New York City (United-States)

Having lived in different cities since a young age, Alex Black has learned to embrace change as a constant companion, presenting a radical expression of conformity that questions the status quo. As a surrealist pop artist, she learns to use new photography tools by trial and error, incorporating them in her practice to develop an unprecedented visual language. She aims to capture a fragmented perspective of the world by distorting reality with close-up shots of details that will astonish the public.

Fascinated by abstract compositions, Black prefers shooting on film to capture reality. To her, this support, which relies on chemistry, preserves the natural state of light. She draws inspiration from the visual language of abstract art to create images that exist independently from their real-world points of reference. Black’s works have been published in prestigious magazines such as i-D, Vogue, and Document Journal.

Sacha Cohen

Born and lives in Montreal

Sacha Cohen is a fashion photographer, video maker and editor. Born in Montréal to Morocco-born parents who encouraged him from his earliest years to develop his creativity, he studied at Dawson College and Concordia University. His works are influenced by famous photographers such as Guy Bourdin and Irving Penn. In fact, he paid tribute to Penn with his own version of the American photographer’s famous Bee Stung Lips image (1995). He has also given a nod to the bright red mouths photographed by the Frenchman Bourdin in the 1970s, replacing the teeth with chewing gum.

Cohen’s coloured, loud and uninhibited pop-infused images are influenced by the tastes and energy of his teenage years in the 1990s. His signature bears the mark of the media from his youth, including the aesthetics of garage punk rock and the early cartoons broadcast on Canadian youth television channel YTV. Whether he is photographing pop act Les Louanges or Caroline Vreeland, the great-granddaughter of legendary editor Diana Vreeland who now calls Montréal home, Cohen enhances the often flamboyant personality of his subjects with decors specially made for each occasion.

Cristina Gareau

Born in Québec, lives in Tofino, British Columbia.

After completing her doctoral studies in cancer research in Geneva and Québec City, Cristina Gareau turned her well-defined career path on its head when she succumbed to the lure of nature, creativity, and adventure. Since then, she has perfected an approach that celebrates youth, carefreeness, nonchalance, unconventionality, and freedom. Her portraits are devoid of artifice to make way for the world of dreams. She advocates for the natural attributes of women, paying no heed to conventional beauty standards, in the hope that women can recognize themselves in the moments she captures rather than in the digital world dominated by luxury and celebrities.

For Gareau, life is a quest for balance between extremes; a quest that has taken her on a search for beauty in the contrast between peaceful decors and untamed locations. Brought to photography by her two seemingly opposite passions for arts and science, Gareau aims to get the most out of the photography techniques required to capture an image by combining them with her ineffable ability to convey an emotion.

Andréanne Gauthier

Born in Chicoutimi, lives in Montreal

Andréanne Gauthier studied photography at the Vieux-Montréal CEGEP. Her command of body language, which she acquired in the dancing lessons of her youth, has resulted in a unique sensitivity: [translation] “Body language is the most important thing. If everything seems perfect, but nothing is natural, the picture is not good,” as she puts it. The emotion emanating from her models is captured without theatrics or artifice, in a style Gauthier describes as [translation] “natural, raw, polished, pure and loud.”

Gauthier has grown fond of a soft, but structured lighting that she uses to create portraits imbued with a certain calmness. She eschews from excessive plays of light and shadow to retain the structure of the faces she captures on film, both in the studio and under natural lighting. Ariane Moffatt described her experience with Gauthier in this way: [translation] “My true nature is opposite from glamour; it is a creation mindset, in the studio, which is both my shrine and my playground. It was easy to be photographed in my ‘natural habitat.’ I feel at home here, and Andréanne was simply offering me a portrait of myself in my favourite place, looking for the best authenticity. I appreciate photographers who don’t come between their subject and their vision.”

Royal Gilbert

Born in Scott, lives in Paris, France.

Now based in Paris, Royal Gilbert grew up in the Beauce countryside. With his faithful camera and video camera, the young film aficionado was able to construct his own universe through the experimental short films he made with his sisters and cousins. After studying arts and graphic design, he took up photography at Dawson College. He has elaborated a cinematographic style presenting fictional subjects that have a perceptible energy.

His work provides viewers with a novel and playful take on aesthetics, often reinterpreting beauty norms and gender roles in unusual environments, with the aim of effecting change, spontaneity and inventiveness in the fashion industry. Gilbert collaborates with numerous international periodicals such as Elle, Vogue, and Wonderland. He has also created album covers for Ariane Moffatt and produced a memorable series of images of Belgian singer Angèle in collaboration with multidisciplinary artist Gab Bois. Since 2021, he has developed all the visuals for the world tours of Lebanese-American singer Mika, including a tour book, show posters in London and Tokyo, and front pages for Vanity Fair in France and Italy.

Norman Jean Roy

Born in Mont-Saint-Hilaire, lives in Hudson, United States

Norman Jean Roy moved to the United States with his family when he was a teenager. A few years later, he started studying graphic arts and architecture. It was during this time that he discovered the works of Richard Avedon. “It was the single most important event of my photographic life,” he says.

Animated by his desire to express the beauty and mystery of people in a cinematic universe that has become his signature, he explains that he is fascinated with the human condition: “I’m just genuinely interested in people and finding these moments of vulnerability that allow me to mirror back and make sense of my own experience. What’s interesting is finding these glimpses and grabbing them.” Recognized as one of the great portraitists of his time, Roy has photographed all the leading figures of politics, cinema, television, music and dance. He stresses the importance of distinguishing a photograph from a simple image: “I categorize anything photographic as a photograph, anything else is a picture. They’re two very different things.”

Shayne Laverdière

Born in Québec City, lives in Montreal

Shayne Laverdière was ten when he received a Minolta camera as a birthday present. He realized at that moment that photography would be the path to his future. For Laverdière, portraits and fashion are pretexts to create universes, to meet unique people, to catch what cannot be caught, and to surprise his own subjects. Whether he is trying to capture the charm of Jake Gyllenhaal, the mysterious gaze of Kathy Bates, or the legendary smile of Julia Roberts, he describes his method as follows: [translation] “I try not to disguise reality and to be as true as possible to the subject’s personality, while also brining a touch of spontaneity, sometimes humour, but above all, sincerity.”

Laverdière is also responsible for creative direction and promotional videos for Maison Alaïa, and he collaborates with luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chopard, Emilio Pucci, Chloé, as well as La Maison Simons. As the long-time official photographer for Xavier Dolan, he is also tasked with taking photographs on the filmmaker’s sets to make records of all the teams behind the scenes. Dolan played a large role in Laverdière’s career development by promoting his talent to magazines.

Carl Lessard

Born in Chicoutimi, lives in Montreal

The richness of Carl Lessard’s portfolio lies not only in his great mastery of black-and-white photography, but also in his skill at blurring the lines between portraiture, fashion photography, photojournalism and social photography. In his work, which borders between ethnographic and journalistic, he places equal emphasis on nature, landscapes and their dwellers. Lessard considers photography to be both an art and a communication tool that breaks down barriers whether they are social or linguistic. Creating a veritable ode to wildlife, he is interested in the diverse components of nature, emblematic landscapes, and animals. Each of his portraits is the result of an encounter, an exercise in meditation to capture a magical moment.

Lessard uses photography to tell stories and to meet inspiring people and places. When he makes portraits of personalities such as Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Cesaria Évora, he photographs them in perfect simplicity, without any decor. His grasp of lighting, especially natural lighting, allows him to create authentic renderings with his composition work.

Monic Richard

Born in Québec City, lives in Montreal

As a pioneer of photography in Quebec who began her career at a time when few women worked as fashion photographers and portraitists, Monic Richard, much like Annie Leibovitz in the United States or Sarah Moon and Ellen von Unwerth in Europe, was able to establish her aesthetics, but above all, her place in what was a traditionally male-dominated industry field.

Her portfolio is a record of Quebec’s history and popular culture. She has captured all of its most important figures, including Louise Lecavalier, Josée di Stasio and Anne Dorval. Her vibrant personality, self-assurance, and ability to grasp the way her subjects wish to be perceived have appealed to many magazines, who have entrusted her with photographing the leading people of different generations for over three decades. Models Claudia Schiffer and Ève Salvail, visionaries Guy Laliberté et Phyllis Lambert, and a host of politicians, literary figures, actors, musicians, singers, songwriters and composers with larger-than-life accomplishments such as Luc Plamondon, Oliver Jones, Leonard Cohen and Céline Dion have allowed Richard to enter their intimacy and capture their personality.

Étienne Saint-Denis

Born in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, lives in Montreal

With his photographs, Étienne Saint-Denis aims to bring back a certain sense of déjà vu and unresolved tension, unifying his work with disconnected visual stories. In an interview with Document Journal, he explained his approach as follows: [translation] “I like seeing something and feeling that I have photographed the subject before, but that they fall somewhere in the space-time continuum. I can clearly visualize the image in my head, and I have to find how to reach it.” On a technical level, his works reveal an interest in improbable combinations of ancient analog darkroom processes with today’s new digital technologies.

Saint-Denis collaborates with magazines such as Vogue and Interview, but also more specialized publications like Document Journal, AnOther, 032c, as well as the English magazine Dazed for which he created a memorable photographic series titled Reimagining the Witch. This contemporary, non-gendered interpretation of witches blew up all stereotypes, giving the figures a folkloric aspect with drag queen-inspired makeup. The approach translates a recurring perspective in his work, where genres are constantly revisited.

Nelson Simoneau

Born in Sherbrooke, lives in Paris, France.

Nelson Simoneau’s career has always spanned both sides of the Atlantic. This unique position has given him a dual (American and French) sensitivity that transpires in his work. He has collaborated with the largest magazines, including the Quebec, the Canadian and a number of international editions of Elle (France, US, Japan, UK, Spain), the New York Times Magazine, the French and Japanese editions of Madame Figaro, the British GQ and Le Nouvel Observateur. He has also worked with Ocean Drive and Dress to Kill, two magazines that launched the international careers of many young photographers, including Simoneau himself, thanks to the vision of their respective chief editors François Guenet and Sylvain Blais, whose covers and editorials received many awards.

Simoneau is strongly influenced by fashion, his initial passion, which he uses as an instrument to [translation] “capture an inner beauty rather than an outer beauty that is accentuated with clothes that have nothing to do with the subject’s personality,” adding that he prefers plural beauties that make us discover what is invisible to the naked eye.

Xavier Tera

Born in Montréal, lives in Tokyo, Japan

Growing up in a globetrotting family, Xavier Tera dreamed of making movies, taking pictures and travelling from a young age. It all clicked when his mother bought him a Pentax camera for his nine-year birthday. The work of the visionary photographer and director strikes a delicate balance between fiction and reality, as well as cultural identities and diversity, thus creating a distinct narrative. His skillfully built, surrealism-tinged images have showcased musical celebrities such as Harry Styles, Kaytranada and Rosalía and graced advertisements for Moncler, Nike and Burberry, not to mention Adidas (with Zinédine Zidane, David Beckham and Hoyeon Jung), earning him many praises and awards.

Discussing the unique narrative of his images, Tera says he wants to touch the viewers straight to the heart in the hope that they understand and take in the presented scenes. Whether it is Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi, director Michael Mann in a moment of intimacy, Jeremy O. Harris in a kaleidoscope of lights or a reflective nun at the airport, Tera prioritizes the subject, explaining that he cannot separate people from their story.

villedepluie

Born and lives in Montreal

villedepluie’s versatility can be seen in his street and nighttime photography. His images show both landscapes and moments of urban life, evoking both his wild youth and his idols, with his subjects portrayed in an unfiltered fashion that conveys their vulnerability and emotions. Far removed from voyeurism, villedepluie immortalizes moments of the everyday life with images that straddle documentary photography and anti-fashion series, making the mundane larger than life.

Always looking for spontaneity, villedepluie has a taste for the unexpected, as evidenced by his shot of Hubert Lenoir crowd surfing at the Foufounes électriques. His pictures reveal the true nature of his subjects, reflecting for example the poetry of Alexandra Stréliski, the outbursts of laughter of FouKi or the boredom of Luis Clavis, all photographed in the same setting 30 days apart, with a blooming or a wilted appearance. With their apparent grain and unedited subjects, the realistic images evoke a personal diary or photographic confessional.

Acknowledgements

The Museum would like to thank its team and all those who contributed, directly and indirectly, to the presentation of this exhibition.

Curatorship
Thierry-Maxime Loriot, Curator

Project management
Catherine K. Laflamme, Principal Project Manager, Exhibitions

Exhibition design
Guillaume Kukucka

Graphic design
Paprika

Video editing and creation
Tomi Grgicevic
Rodeo FX

Music
Jonathan Cayer


McCord Stewart Museum team

Exhibitions
John Gouws, Chief Technician, Exhibitions
Mélissa Jacques, Technician, Exhibitions
Olivier LeBlanc-Roy, Technician, Exhibitions
Patrick Migneault, Technician, Exhibitions
Siloë Leduc, Technician, Exhibitions

Collections Management and Digital Outreach
Stéphanie Poisson, Head, Digital Outreach, Collections and
Exhibitions
Karine Rousseau, Head, Collections Management
Camille Deshaies-Forget, Assistant, Collections Management

Education, Community Engagement and Cultural Programs
Clara Chouinard, Project Manager, Education, Community Engagement and Cultural Programs
Cultural Mediation Team

Marketing, Communications and Visitor Experience
Catherine Morellon, Head, Communications
Antonin Gélinas, Head, Marketing and Visitor Experience

Foundation
Amélie Saint-Pierre, Executive Director, McCord Museum Foundation
Pierre Poirier, Senior Officer, Annual Campaign and Planned Giving


External team

Photo printing
Photosynthèse

Framing

Encadrex

Editing and translation
Pascale Guertin
Judith Terry
Mélissa Veilleux
Bronson Whitford

Lighting design
LightFactor Inc.

Graphic production
PDI Solutions Grand Format
Lumi-vert
Graphiscan
Pro Séri

Installation
Exotech Installations
Éric Fauque

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Thanks to our partners
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