John Der

John Der  (1926-1996)

John Der left us too soon, we hasten to add. An engaging man and an artist of great sensitivity. John Der often painted characters rather like himself. They are friendly giants with ham hock hands, all seemingly sketched live by a raconteur of sorts whose great talent we are only beginning to appreciate.

The artist is gone, but his work remains. John Der left us incredible number of paintings, of which many already belong to collectors attracted by his unique way of translating daily life to the canvas.

 

John Der created his own country fairs. He painted a kind of rural life that mixed youngsters, parishioner, animals, an habitants, in other words, a veritable fresco of types, customs and activities  representative of the likeable yet gritty world that is Quebec. The bulk of his work is somewhat reminiscent of a certain Ruben’s masterpiece exhibited at the Louvre in which the notions of movement and liberty are fully exploited.

John Der had a quality rarely found in artist here- a sense of humour! In a genre that verges on debauchery, he remains smiling and friendly. His paintings deal with daily task, occupations and pastimes which are the fruit of his observations and knowledge of the rural way of life, which may be real but remains strange to the many urbanites among us.

 

Der’s art stands our from the conventional, mawkish art which many Quebec painters produce, e.g. dull landscapes, insignificant still life’s, pompous characters and, in the case of abstract art, anaemic schemas. Generally speaking, our artistic milieu is too stiff, too timid, too uniform. Our society suffers from a certain moroseness which makes the Juliens, La Palmes, Hudons, Chapleaus look revolutionary. They actually laugh, criticize and enjoy themselves!

 

At first glance, Der’s compositions show common, larger than life figures in compact, glutinous groups. His characters are embraced, attached, grabbed. They have  real « mugs » rather than faces. Their hands are bloated; their feet, shod in clogs. These people bend their elbows, stuff their face, chew the fat… Their heads sport a shock of hair or a wig, as well as skull caps, berets, cloches, bonnets, helmets, caps and tuques. Their bodies are imposing and their gestures work with the force of gravity. Whatever the circumstances. Der’s characters appear in pastel tones that make the viewer forget the medium is oil on Masonite.

 

Der’s painting remind the viewer of sculptures. The influence of the sculpture likely comes from the artist’s studies with John Byers. However, Der remained a marvellous drawer for whom line structured each scene. His is a supple, sensitive, omnipresent line.

 

Born in Canora, Saskatchewan, John Der hung his hat on many a hook across North America and rubbed shoulders with many characters. After living for a while in Toronto, he enrolled in the merchant marine and sailed the Great Lakes and beyond. He got married in Montreal, where he worked in caricature and comics before studying at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. There John met Arthur Lismer, Marian Scott and Jacques de Tonnancour. Colourful, like La Palme and Hudon, Der was often invited to take part in television programs.

 

Der lived in Rosemere, north of Montreal, where he supported his family by working as a agent and broker. During a trip to Florida in 1982, he decided to devote himself full-time to painting.

The value of an artist is often judged according to the memories and names that he/she evokes. In this case, the artist lead us not to the impressionists or European landscape artist, but rather to Bruegel l’Aine, Bosch, Callot, Daumier, Rowlandson (British) Kokusai (Japanese) Benton and Cadmus (American) end even Picasso. If the analogy were continued, Rabelais’ name might crop up!

 

In other words, Ser was not the  artist painting old houses, barns, fences, churches or ruin. His art has always been current and realist. John Der saw Quebec as it is : alive, tender, passionate and always true. He also managed to season his work with finesse and lucidity.

 

Paul Gladu

John Der artist, galerie d'art la Corniche Chicoutimi

John Der artist, galerie d’art la Corniche Chicoutimi

Magazin’Art Fall 1996

Lecor, Paul Tex

PAUL TEX LECOR

If one had but one word to describe the artwork Paul Tex Lecor , this would the one.The strength of everyday images and people, of a country still a little wild and of the ideals of souls looking for that freedom; all this is the foundation of Paul Tex Lecor’s work, an icon and a friend to the people of Quebec.A free man, Tex listens and understands people and country.  He gives a voice to those who speak low, to the birds and the trees.Over a career now spanning six decades, freedom seems to have been the one reference in his work and in his life.At an age where most men seek rest and tranquility, something still pushes this talented artist to seek a muse that never fails to find him.He spends the fair season traveling, hoarding visual experiences essential to the work of a creator.  He shares his happiness with fellow artists and everyday people and they, in turn, often become part of his paintings.  Modern day trapper and woodsman, his catch is of images and impressions instead of the furs that his predecessors used to send to adorn kings and noblemen in the old country.Larger that life as he is, one might think that the character sometimes takes precedence over the painter.  One would be wrong…Free, even carefree?  Surely but one should not confuse freedom with improvisation.For all the wild imagination reflected in the way Lecor paints, a trained eye sees the work of an artist in full possession of his craft; of techniques passed on over generations.  In the wild and crazy dance of the colors and subjects inhabiting the paintings, one can find painting lessons that would not pale in comparison to the old masters’.This painter thrives on instinct but a deep study of his oeuvre reveals ever ongoing evolution.Whether one looks at the characters that seem to come right out of our not so distant past or at the landscapes that live in his work, Lecor operates like a technician who uses his knowledge without ever falling into a comfortable lull.  he work of an artist constantly revisiting his soul and his love of Quebec and its peopleIn a field that is sometime suspicious of artists who afford themselves the luxury of a many fold career, Lecor has often suffered the cynicism of certain people in the art world.Well known in Quebec as a singer songwriter and humorist, he has been, for some, an easy target.In the rest of Canada, however, he was painter from the start and his reputation has grown from day one without preconceptions.Today the intellectual complacency of yesteryears is giving way to a greater openness towards the may forms art can take thus making Lecor a name to be reckoned with more than ever in the Canadian and Quebec art community.For over thirty years Paul Lecor has been a fixture in Canada’s greatest art galleries and he is present in some of this country’s largest art collections..To those who know him, Tex is a rare jewel of a man and artist.  To those who admire him, an example to be followed.What heights the work of this giant will fetch in the future is hard to forecast.  Clearer is the fact that his production of the last few years has shown huge leaps in the evolution of an oeuvre that is always fresh. Clearly, the work of an artist constantly revisiting his soul and his love of Quebec and its people.S.M.Pearson, 2005

(Source:  http://www.multi-art.net/tex/merci.htm)

Born june 10, 1933, in Saint Michel de Wenrworth, Québec,As a child, Tex Lecor`s father took him under his wing, and taught the young artist to paintand draw. As soon as he was old enough (18), he moved out of his native town of Saint-Michel de Wentworth, to Montreal. His goal was to study at the Montreal School of Fine Arts,which he accomplished in 1951. Once in Montreal, he met many local artists, including Léo Ayotte. Although Ayotte was many years Tex`senior, they forged a strong bond which lasteduntil Ayotte`s passing. Tex Lecor admired many artists such as Goodridge Roberts and Franklin Carmichael, the only artist he says inspires him was Léo Ayotte.

In 1960, Paul Lecor Moved to Old Montreal; at the time an area known as an artist`s andmusician`s area. He was having a lot of trouble making ends meet as a painter, so hebegan singing and playing guitar. Always a man with a good sense of humor,Tex`s songswere often satyrical and were well received by Montreal audiences. Even though he was now a performer, he still made time once a week to teach young artists at his downtown studio. By the time “EXPO 67” came around, he had made it, and by 1970 he was offered a part in the television show “Sous Mon Toit”; he was considered a star. He was now making enough money to support his primary passion, painting full time.

With his lifelong dream finally coming true, he refused to waste the opportunity. He was extremely prolific, and sold his work at an art Gallery in Laval. This type of exposure allowed him to hold his first solo show in 1976. Forthe next several years, he experimented with color and subject, exploring all aspects of his personality. His pieces often had humorous undertones, but ther was always a degree of sincerity in his subjects. He never intended to convey any message, just to truly explore color.

In 1987, still painting and exhibiting, he was offered a chance to travel across Canada andmeet with other artists for an open forum; the excursion was taped and broadcast on CBC. He had the chace to meet Guido Molinari and Jean-Paul Riopelle, which left him feeling reenergized about his own work. His colors evolved once again, as he told the tale of his lifethrough his paintings. Every moment he spent away from his true passion, was only astepping stone in order to forward his dream.

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