Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923-2002)

 Big Bang, Big Band

Big Bang, Big Band
© Succession J.P. Riopelle / Sodrac 2009

Limited edition of 75 prints, 51 cm x 71 cm, 2004
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Jean-Paul Riopelle

Jean-Paul Riopelle is one of the few Canadian painters, sculptors and engravers to have carved out an enviable place on the international scene. A passionate man, intensely in love with freedom, he scoffed at conventions and taboos throughout his career. Fiercely independent, he preceded currents and trends, ceaselessly exploring new techniques and new materials, constantly seeking to renew his creative approach, allowing his pictorial language to evolve towards an utterly original aesthetic. Riopelle found his principal source of inspiration in nature, and it would remain his preferred subject throughout his career. For Riopelle, the important thing was never the subject itself, but the mystery it revealed, through which the artist could express himself. He had an inimitable vision of things, and his representation of the real remains remarkable and novel.

“There is no such thing as abstraction, nor representation. There is only expression, and self-expression means placing yourself in front of things,” Riopelle said.

Born in Montreal in 1923, Riopelle studied at the École du meuble, with Paul-Émile Borduas as a teacher. A signatory and advocate of the Refus global manifesto, he settled in France in 1948, where he was privileged to be at the heart of the artistic and intellectual life of the avant-garde. In the 1950s, he and his work soared to triumph in Paris as well as in America. During his time in Paris and New York, Riopelle rubbed elbows with the greatest jazz legends of the era, including Bud Powell. This interest in the music led him to permit the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal to reproduce silkscreens of his piece, Jazz, in 1997. Then, during the 25th anniversary of the Festival, the late painter's estate granted exclusive permission to reproduce 75 copies of the previously unreleased 1990 work Big Bang, Big Band, which Alain Simard had personally acquired in 1997, during a visit to the artist's home on L'Isle-aux-Grues.

Today, the works of Jean-Paul Riopelle are included in major museum, private and public collections and showcased in the most important galleries the world over. His is an immense and diversified oeuvre that opened new artistic horizons, leaving its mark on the history of world art.

Silkscreens of the piece Big Bang, Big Band are still available from the Galerie Lounge TD.