JEAN-PAUL RIOPELLE, R.C.A.
VALLÉE DE LA ROCHE BLANCHE
pastel on paper
signed and dated ‘75
26.5 ins x 17.25 ins; 67.3 cms x 43.8 cms
Born in Montreal, Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923-2002) began his early artistic training like so many art makers by copying nature. He later studied under Paul-Émile Borduas at the École de Meuble in the early 1940s, where he joined the Surrealist inspired Automatiste movement and was one of the original signatories of the Refus Global manifesto.
Riopelle was in Paris from the 1950s and represented Canada in the Venice Biennale 1962. His aesthetic placed him firmly in the Abstract Expressionism movement that was taking hold of the Western world at the time. However, where many of his contemporaries followed the avant-garde precedent set by Picasso, Riopelle was instead inspired by the immense, Impressionist paintings of Claude Monet. While in Paris, Riopelle began a 25 year long relationship with the American Abstract Expressionist painter, Joan Mitchell. Their working relationship is currently the subject of a major retrospective at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
After his separation from Mitchell in the early 1970s, Riopelle divided his time between France and Canada, returning to Quebec definitively by 1989. Through these final decades of his career, Riopelle focused on figurative imagery with a distinct fixation on birds in flight. The Canadian landscape was again a primary source of inspiration for him. Demonstrative of Riopelle’s representational shift, Vallée de la Roche Blanche evokes the bird in flight motif. Red, orange, black and blue intersect, while the curvilinear figures in the centre push our attention to the periphery of the picture. Riopelle’s black lines create movement throughout the composition applying harmony and organization to the maelstrom of colour.
The work is included in the catalogue raisonné for Jean-Paul Riopelle as no.1975.031P.
Private Collection, Montreal