Arsenal officially opened its vast new exhibition space last weekend in Montréal’s Griffintown district, celebrating with three evenings of festivities. The brainchild of collector and entrepreneur Pierre Trahan, Arsenal was launched via the exhibition Travers – The Art of Collecting which includes more than a dozen collections from Québécois patrons, such as François Odermatt, Alain Tremblay and Paryse Taillefer. The show continues until 25 May to mix and match a wide variety of works on the walls, including those from Anselm Kiefer, Jannis Kounelis, Irene F. Whittome and Marc Séguin, to also offer a nod towards Collecting, another Montreal exhibition themed around the passion for collecting, presented by Access Culture. A few hours before Saturday’s third and final evening of celebration, director Jean-François Bélisle shares a few thoughts with M_KOS about his ambitions for Arsenal.
M-KOS [MKOS]: Could you tell us your relationship with Pierre Trahan and the initiators of Arsenal? Were you involved with this project from the very beginning?
Jean-François Bélisle [JFB]: I was there very early in the process, Pierre Trahan had this vision several years ago already, and I was working at the time as director for the Association of Contemporary Art Galleries (AGAC), for the past three years. I joined the Arsenal team in an informal way, to help the project move forward about a year and a half ago. Then I became full-time director of the Arsenal in May last year, right at the beginning of the construction works.