Mois de la Francophonie: Acadie in the spotlight at the NAC

The Kipnes Lantern takes on a distinctly Acadian flair for Lisa LeBlanc’s collaboration with the NAC Orchestra

After Lisa LeBlanc’s latest album, Chiac Disco, was shortlisted for a prestigious Polaris Music Prize (having already won two ADISQ Félix awards for album production of the year and best pop album of the year), Montréal-based artist Mathieu Dionne took up the task of making the perfect poster for the occasion.

Dionne leveraged his skills as an illustrator and a designer to craft the poster’s unforgettable design: a pair of legs decked out in bell-bottoms in the colours of the Acadian flag, set against a yellow background, an echo from a not-so-distant past.

In March, Acadie’s own Lisa LeBlanc will be hitting the stage at Southam Hall with the NAC Orchestra, showcasing the same nation-sweeping blend of roots, rock and country that’s been captivating audiences since the 2010 Festival international de la chanson de Granby and her debut album release in 2012.

We sat with Mathieu Dionne to discuss the cultural wealth that minority Francophone communities bring to the Francophonie, starting with his illustrations and his work with Lisa LeBlanc.

How did you end up teaming up with Lisa LeBlanc for Chiac Disco’s Polaris Music Prize nomination?

It was total chance. Lisa LeBlanc’s Chiac Disco had been shortlisted for a Polaris Music Prize in 2022. Every year, they ask artists to design a poster for each album on the shortlist, and, this time, they asked me to do the poster art for Lisa’s. The poster ended up being a huge hit with everyone. Lisa loved it and reached out to me to keep building on the idea. We’ve been working together on other projects ever since.

Was it fun getting to revisit your art for the NAC’s Kipnes Lantern?

Oh, absolutely! This will be the first time that my art gets to come to life on such a massive scale. I can’t wait to see it in person. It’s been so exciting to get to work on such a huge canvas. Plus, I love that it's something everyone can enjoy. I really hope I get to animate more of my artwork in the future and work on more public art projects.

How would you describe your art style?

I would say that my style is a mix of lots of different influences from European comic artists like Hergé and Franquin, American cartoons, and poster artists such as Vittorio Fiorucci and Raymond Savignac.

Who are your art role models?

Vittorio Fiorucci is an artist I love and who constantly inspires me. He’s a Quebec-born Italian illustrator and poster artist who famously created Just For Laughs’s iconic green mascot. In fact, my Chiac Disco poster is an homage to a poster he designed in 1968 for Françoise Loranger and Claude Levac’s play Le chemin du roy.

I’m also a big fan of Sempé’s and Saul Steinberg’s art. I aspire to achieve the same simplicity and efficiency of linework. When it comes to poster artists, Alfred Halasa, one of my professors at university, is one of the masters in the field. He taught me so much about contrast and colours.

How does it feel to see your work showcased on the NAC Kipnes Lantern in downtown Ottawa for the Mois de la Francophonie?

I’m thrilled to be able to do my part for the Mois de la Francophonie on a platform as amazing as the Kipnes Lantern. Preserving the French language in Canada and America is something I care deeply about. I think language minorities bring immense wealth and flavour to our nation, which is worth protecting at all costs. French can be a polarizing topic in Canada, and that just shows how important it is to keep advocating for the language rights of Francophones nationwide, rights that are disregarded on a daily basis.

Celebrate Mois de la Francophonie with various activities and shows in March and throughout the year!

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