Arthur Villeneuve

Arthur Villeneuve, C.M. (January 4, 1910, Chicoutimi, Quebec – May 24, 1990, Montreal, Quebec) was a Québécois painter and member of the Order of Canada Villeneuve was raised in a working class family in Chicoutimi. His father was a mason, bricklayer, and church choir member. Among his brothers there was a shoesmith turned blacksmith, a locomotive engineer, and an upholsterer. After leaving school at the age of fourteen, Villeneuve was hired in a paper mill. When he was sixteen he took a winter job as a “chore-boy” in a camp, work which did not hold his interest for long. Finally, in the same year, Villeneuve settled on a career when he became a barber’s apprentice. By nineteen years of age Villeneuve had already purchased his first barber shop, the Salon Champlain on rue Sainte-Anne in Chicoutimi. Within three years his business was flourishing and he was secure enough financially to buy two rental properties. He soon sold these in order to buy a restaurant, but all the while maintaining control of, and working long hours at, his salon. These years of prosperity ended abruptly in 1944 with the death of Villeneuve’s first wife, Simone Bouchard, and the loss of his properties. He became a barber at Hôtel-Dieu Hospital in Chicoutimi. Meanwhile, he remarried: his second and last wife was a woman from Rimouski named Hélène Morin. In total Villeneuve had seven children, four with Simone and three with Hélène. The nine Villeneuves lived in their modest sized house at 669 rue Taché, Chicoutimi, beginning in 1950. The House of Arthur Villeneuve Early in his second marriage Arthur began experimenting with drawing, collages, and sheet metal sculptures. Among these last there remains an elaborate clock, a ship and a lighthouse, each of which images would become prominent themes in his later platte peinture. But his most famous early work is the house he bought at 669 rue Taché which he nearly completely covered, inside and out, with his first paintings.[1] This sudden urgency on Arthur’s behalf to become an artist was attributed by him to a revelation he had in 1946. This decisive moment occurred during the homily at Sunday mass, in which the priest quoted from a letter of Pope Pius XII. The purpose of the letter was to exhort the faithful to make full use of their talents.[2] Arthur believed that he had, until then, left his artistic ability untouched, and returned home to set about developing his gift. Arthur began painting frescoes on the outside of his house in April, 1957. Still working as a barber, he painted 100 hours per week for 23 months, until he had covered the front facade, the rear, all the interior walls and ceilings, and even the windows of his house.[3] Because he was entirely self-taught and completely out of contact with his contemporaries in the painting world, Arthur was and is classed among those who practiced naive art or primitive art.

Curious by nature and gifted with a good sense of observation, he made provision of perspectives, topics and images as sources of inspiration. He took many liberties in the representation of natural and urban landscapes, but he also mixed ages. He painted what he felt, first and foremost.

Arthur Villeneuve, naive artist, galerie la corniche art gallery

Jean-Paul Riopelle

Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923-2002)

Jean Paul Riopelle, painter, sculptor and engraver (b at Montréal 7 Oct 1923, d at Île-aux-Grues, Qué Mar 12 2002). He trained under two completely different masters: the academic painter Henri Bisson, who considered even the Impressionists a bit too extreme, and Paul-Émile BORDUAS, who was totally immersed in the avant-garde and surrealist movements. Borduas eventually won him over, and Riopelle joined the AUTOMATISTES school, exhibited with them in Montréal in 1946 and 1947, and in 1948 signed the REFUS GLOBAL (worldwide refusal) manifesto.However, Riopelle’s heart remained in Paris, where he finally settled. It was there that he found his vision, which he referred to as a controlled hazard. In Paris he was briefly associated with the surrealists and was the only Canadian to exhibit with them in 1947. In the end, however, he found that he had more of an affinity with what was known as the Lyrical Abstraction group. The 1950s were devoted to Paris (the critic Georges Duthuit took an interest in his work) and the Americas (the biennial exhibitions in São Paulo in 1951 and 1955, the Younger European Painters exhibition at the Guggenheim in 1953, the International Exhibitions in Pittsburgh in 1958 and 1961). This was also the period of his “grand mosaics,” paintings created using a spatula from multicoloured elements juxtaposed in a manner that recalls a landscape viewed from an airplane.

During the 1960s Riopelle diversified his means of expression, turning also to ink on paper, watercolours, lithography, collage and oils. He also began taking more risks in his painting, as if he were seeking to undo his past successes in order to explore new avenues. His paintings became more chaotic and more matierist, with Riopelle demanding of his materials that they free him of form, his own form. The large painting Point de rencontre (Point of Intersection) (1963), which was intended for the Toronto airport but is now at the Opéra Bastille in Paris, is the masterpiece from this period.

Beginning in 1969, Riopelle completed several sculptures, including the fountain in Montréal’s Olympic Stadium, which is called La joute (The Match) in honour of the hockey players who were his childhood sports heroes. In painting, he started the Hiboux (Owls) series, and at the same time developed an interest in Inuit string figures. In 1972, after the death of his mother, he returned to Québec and built a studio at Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson in the Laurentians. A trip to the Great North introduced him to unfamiliar black and white landscapes, resulting in the Icebergs series.

It is often said of Riopelle that he “returned to figures” in the 1980s, but it could also be said that he never really left them. He started the Oies blanches series on white geese, great migrators like Riopelle himself. At the same time, he abandoned traditional painting methods in favour of aerosol spray cans and often created works of art that resembled photographic negatives; that is to say, he projected his colour of choice onto an object that he then withdrew in a way that left only a negative impression of form on the canvas. His Hommage à Rosa Luxemburg (1992), which now hangs in the Hull Casino, marks the high point of this period and is considered to be Riopelle’s artistic legacy. It is also a tribute to love, to the American painter Joan Mitchell who was his companion for 25 years. In 1981 he was the first signatory of the Refus Global manifesto to be awarded the prestigious Paul-Émile Borduas prize. Riopelle established his studios at Estérel, but he lived out his last years at Île-aux-Grues, upriver from Québec.noir gris et beige pâle jute1.1