Robert Roussil ( 1925 – 2013 )
Dominion Gallery, Montreal
- Roussil, Retrospective,Vingt ans de sculpture, 18th. Nov. 1965 – 2nd. Jan. 1966, Musee d art contemporain Montreal. Guy Robert, p. 37. Illustration.
- Vers L’universalite Le Cul Par Terre Roussil, Michel Gaudet, Montreal, 1977 p. 37. Illustration.
Robert Roussil, born 18 August 1925 Montreal, Canada and died 15 May 2013 Tourrettes-sur-Loup, en Provence, France. Studied at the Montreal Artists School. His teachers included Dr. Arthur Lismer, John Byers, Goodridge Roberts, Louis Archambault, and Jacques de Tonnancour, winning two scholarships and a first prize for sculpture. Exhibited at Librairie Tranquille in 1949, reviewed by C.G. MacDonald for The Montreal Herald noted, “Those who are interested in modernism as expressed in sculpture will find this exhibition interesting and, I believe, be impressed by the powerful simplicity of Mr. Roussil’s approach.” Roussil was hired by the Montreal Museum School where he was instructor up until the time of his creation of the “Family Group”. This work consisted of nude figures of a man, a kneeling woman with a small child resting on her shoulders. Roussil painted the sculpture fire-engine red. It was to be delivered inside the School of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts but some misunderstanding led to it being left outside in a yard not far away, in general public view. Complaints from the public had prompted the Montreal police to take it to the station out of sight. The story was carried in headlines in all the local newspapers until the matter was brought to a conclusion. At the end of the matter The Montreal Standard, noted, “The police, who have come to regard the statue with a kind of understanding affection, have also become fond of Roussil and his artist friends. For the last few days they have had a high old time holding their own art exhibit and passing the time of day with people they ordinarily don’t run across in their line of duty. Today they were sad to think the statue was leaving – but willingly loaned their strong arms to help Roussil carry it away to a more suitable resting place in the Marchant Galleries on Sherbrooke Street West. Are they going to prefer any charges? `not on your life,’ said one policeman. `We’ve had too much fun out of the whole business.”‘ In 1951 Roussil placed another one of his wood sculptures outside the Agnes Lefort Gallery. This second controversial work was entitled “La Paix” (The Peace) which consisted of a man and woman embraced holding up a human embryo above which was a dove of peace. It was probably Roussil’s joyful expression of creating life and love rather than death and sorrow as he most surely must have seen during his wartime service with the infantry in Europe. Again complaints came from the public and the police were called to enforce a city bylaw which forbids public display of nudes. A lawyer who worked for the City, vandalized the sculpture as a protest against its naked or `obscene’ nature. Agnes Lefort and Roussil stood their ground until the pressure got too great and Lefort, fearful of losing her gallery, asked Roussil to move the work. Disgusted, Roussil sent it to a warehouse in Toronto only to submit it successfully again in Montreal for the Spring Exhibition of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1954.
Poem for Roussil by Milton James Rhode Acorn
We haven’t written letters
not needing to remind ourselves
that he’s himself there
and Im myself here.
Once we went over each other
like with rough hands, arguing
for every hard corner of a reason
stuck out on each of us.
But that each was each we agreed
and because we were two … one.
We actually met once, since;
he wrinkled up a grin, I nodded
we said hello.
We havent written letters
Not needing to remind ourselves
that the things we do make roots
sucking sweet water.
Like he s a tree out there
I can stretch out to lean on.
He wont move.
Robert Roussil website link: http://robertroussil.com/Robert_Roussil/MODULE01.html