Jean Paul Lemieux ARC / RCA
Jean Paul Lemieux, a painter, illustrator, art critic and teacher, was born in Québec City on November 18, 1904 and died in Montreal on November 7, 1990. He started drawing at an early age and attended Canadian impressionist painter Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Côté’s workshop in the spring of 1925. That same year, he enrolled in the École des beaux-arts de Montréal where Edwin Holgate was one of his teachers. From 1929 to 1931, he temporarily interrupted his studies to travel to Europe and to visit important American museums (Chicago, New York and Boston). Then in 1937, after teaching for two years at the École du meuble de Montréal, he became a teacher at the École des beaux-arts de Québec until 1965. While painting and teaching, he also pursued an art critic career, writing articles in both French and English for publications such as Le Jour, Regards, Maritime Art and Canadian Art. Lemieux’s works, which are closely related to the time that passes, that we wait for and are afraid of, is divided into three periods. First, the naïve or primitive period (in the 40’s), where his paintings were greatly influenced by the Italian primitivist School and Québec ancient art, of which he was an avid collector. And, in 1954, back from a trip to France that he was able to make thanks to a Royal Canadian Society scholarship, Jean Paul Lemieux opted for finer lines and a more geometric style. His characters gave the impression of living in a world ‘’of silence and space’’. Then started a classical period (beginning of the 50’s up to the end of the 70’s) during which his reputation grew notoriously both in Canada and abroad. Exclusive exhibitions were dedicated to him in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Québec, and his paintings were part of four biennial exhibitions of the National Gallery of Canada, exhibitions of Canadian art at the São Paulo Bienniale, at the Brussels International Exhibition, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, at the Tate Gallery in London and at the Musée Galliera in Paris. Im 1960, Jean Paul Lemieux represented Canada at the Venice Bienniale along with Edmund Alleyn, Graham Coughtry, Frances Loring and Albert Dumouchel. In 1968, he was named a Companion of the Order of Canada. The end of the 70’s up to his death in 1990 was marked by a style truly more expressionist, depicting tormented themes such as war, the possibility of a nuclear cataclysm and his fear regarding the fate of the human race. In 1974-1975, the Musée des beaux-arts du Québec (then known as the Musée du Québec) sponsored a retrospective of his work that circulated abroad and in 1992, two years after his death, it organized a complete retrospective.
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