I met Mario for the first time at the opening of his exhibition "Des années cinquante à nos jours" at the Maison de la Culture Ahuntsic-Cartierville. We crossed paths there again the following week, which allowed me to take some pictures of him and his works, along with the staff of the Maison de la culture.
Mario is a visual artist who is actively pursuing, at over 80 years of age, a long and successful career. Son of an Italian father and a Québécois mother, he was born in Villeray, but grew up on De Lille Street in the Sault-au-Récollet. He has been living for over 40 years in a beautiful house in Ahuntsic whose wood facing recalls some of his relief paintings, such as "Arabesque," which appears to the left in the photo below.
It is interesting to hear him tell us, in the video that accompanies the exhibition, how the artwork and ornamentation of the Church of the Visitation influenced his early creative evolution. In the video, he also describes a now gone landscape. Until the forties, around De Lille Street there were agricultural lands with small hills and streams to the south of Fleury Street. This area has since been filled and leveled to become a residential area crossed by Sauriol and Sauvé streets.
Son of musicians, he initially tried to juggle studies in music and fine arts. He finally chose l’École des Beaux-Arts. He then worked in the set design workshops of Radio-Canada, which was then in its early years.
It is however a national competition that really launched his career. He was the laureate designated to make a large mural for the Canadian Pavilion at the Brussels World Exhibition in 1957. The work was conceived in the former studio of Alfred Laliberté, on Ste-Famille Street.
With the fame achieved by this accomplishment, he toured the architectural firms that were busy designing large public and corporate buildings. He personally offered his services for the realization of art works integrated to the architecture. His contribution in this respect during the sixties and seventies is important. His achievements go from monochrome reliefs to colorful ceramics, including large illuminated glass walls in a subway station. They are all beautifully integrated and adapted to their destination buildings. According to the character of the place, they sometimes combine standard building materials to more noble materials.
At the end of this period, Mario turned more actively to sculpture. He took part in symposiums and biennials abroad. He was even invited to participate to the exhibition "Padiglione d'Italia nel mondo" which presented a selection of works by artists of the Italian diaspora in the context of the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011.
Alongside his production, he led a teaching career, including at UQAM. There, he regularly taught drawing, which he regards as the foundation of all his works.
For the past twenty years, he has been devoting himself mainly to painting. His recent pictorial works occupy a large part of the current exhibition. To know more about his achievements, I invite you to visit this exhibition ending October 17th and take the time to watch the video. You can also click on the link under the photo.