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).
On display near the Insectarium in the Montréal Botanical Garden, Rectangle is a vertically oriented rectangular block of concrete whose two main faces present a variety of textures and motifs.
With the addition of pieces of glass, natural stones, metal rods and other items, as well as the subtraction of material, a heterogeneous surface is formed. The letters, numbers, circles, and industrial motifs thus formed carve into the concrete form a sentence without a verb that evokes both infinite semantic possibilities and the types of intervention possible with this material.
The artwork also gives glimpses of the artist’s gestures and interventions with the materials. These imprints refer to the performative dimension of creativity, which is an important aspect of Vaillancourt’s work.