Born in Black Lake, this Québec artist was trained at the University of Ottawa and the École des beaux-arts de Montréal in the 1950s and is known for having upset well-established traditions in Québec, notably through his political engagement and his sculptural work.
Vaillancourt’s long and prolific career has featured by large-scale projects in the public space, including L’humain, a sculpture commissioned by the École des arts et métiers d’Asbestos (1963); Québec libre!, a fountain sculpture for San Francisco’s Embarcadero (1971); and Justice, an anti-apartheid artwork executed for the Palais de justice de Québec (1983).
La force is a cast-iron sculpture installed in Mount Royal Park near Beaver Lake. The ramifications of this massive piece imitate the shape of crushed rocks, and the surface, treated with different finishes applied to the cast during fabrication, offers a stunning variety of textures and colours. Sometimes smooth, sometimes textured or rough, rusted in places, La force lets the expressive potential of the material shine through. The fused metal, fixed in a shape at a specific moment, and the steel frame, visible in some places, show off the fabrication method. Ultimately, this mass of material shows nature in all its strength.
The sculpture was executed with a technique that Vaillancourt developed: iron casting from a Styrofoam mould. This technique, awkwardly midway between sculptural tradition and the new avenues of modernity, helps to give the work the look of raw mineral.