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,”
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.