Cultural entity ‘[co]motion, agitateur de culture’ removed six of the 15 paintings by Christian Messier, which were part of an exhibition at André-Mathieu Hall in Laval, Quebec. The decision, taken on 23 February 2017, came after alleged complaints from visitors over nudity in the paintings, reported Radio Canada.
Two weeks of negotiations with the artist ensued, after which he resolved to take down all of his other paintings featured in the exhibition, well before its scheduled closure in June 2017. “To me, it was a set,” said Messier. “There is no agreement, it’s all or nothing.”
In a statement issued on 22 March 2017, [co]motion clarified that it had partnered with artist association ‘Verticale, centre d’artistes’ for the exhibition. Verticale was set to provide and curate the artistic content under mutually agreed upon terms.
The decision to take the paintings down, however, came after alleged complaints from the public, who felt shocked by the nudity in some of Messier’s paintings and threatened not to return to the venue if the artworks were not taken down, reported Le Devoir.
“In 17 years, I have never seen this. That people complain, yes, but not that they announce to not come back,” [co]motion’s Director General Julie Perron said. She also noted that the venue’s main events are shows and performances, and not painting exhibitions – something that influenced the decision to give to the demands.