The Quebec artist Michel Goulet was born in 1944 in Asbestos and studied at the Université de Sherbrooke and the Université du Québec à Montréal. He has pursued a dual career as an internationally renowned artist and an educator, teaching first at the University of Ottawa and later at the Université du Québec à Montréal. He is recognized on the international art scene for his sculptures and permanent public art works, but also for his set designs for theatre and opera.
He has shown his work in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and has represented Canada at the Venice Biennale (1988). The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal mounted a retrospective of his work in 2004.
Michel Goulet has received a number of honours, including the Prix Paul-Émile-Borduas, the highest distinction awarded to visual artists by the Quebec government (1990), and the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2008). He was made an Officer of the Ordre national du Québec in 2018.
The first part of Goulet’s Leçons singulières is a bronze, brass, and stainless steel sculptural ensemble composed of eight unique chair-objects and a fountain-table portraying a map of the world. The poem-chairs are also adorned with everyday objects representing the world around us, such as a wheel, a spiral, a funnel, and a puzzle.
The poetic mixture of common objects transforms the viewer’s vision and apprehension of the square. By juxtaposing public and private space, the poetic and the utilitarian, this amazing furniture is liberated from its primary use to energize the connection between residents and the space that they share with the community. In the artist’s view, Les leçons singulières “constitutes a grouping of poetic references to urban life and takes a close look at community relations. It invites us down a real and imaginary path and forces us to make the detours and turn-backs necessary for an adventure of discovery.” A transit point or a place to relax, the square offers a moment of engagement thanks to the artwork’s influence.