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Culture news, 14.07.2006 15:02

Riopelle: Canadian artist

riopelle_canada 16 June 2006 - 17 Setember 2006

The works of Jean Paul Riopelle (1923-2002) are being exhibited in Russia for the first time. The exhibition in the Alexander Hall of the Winter Palace features 26 works covering all the stages in the artist's career. The works on loan from the Montreal Museum go back to the late 1940s and end in the late 1980s - start of the 1990s. The works from the Power Corporation of Canada date from the 1950s-60s.

The exhibition was organized by the State Hermitage jointly with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts with assistance and participation of the Power Corporation of Canada, and support from the Heritage of Canada Foundation, the Exhibitions Fund of the Montreal Museum of Fine Art and the Paul G. Demare Foundation.

The artist's career began in Montreal, where during the 1940s he played a major role in the activities of the "Automatiste" movement, whose intellectual inspiration came from the artist Paul-Emile Borduas. Basing himself on the concept of Surrealism, Borduas advanced the idea of liberation from traditional forms of art by means of a plastic of execution in unison with the rhythm of the subconscious.

In 1947 Riopelle moved to Paris, where he became acquainted with the artists Pierre Loeb, Georges Mathieu, Wols, Raoul Ubac, Pierre Soulages, Sam Francis, Patrick Waldberg and Alberto Giacometti.

Riopelle's first exhibition brought him wide recognition. Soon the artist's fame reached the USA: in 1953 his paintings were shown at the exhibition of Young European Artists in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. A year later he began his cooperation with the Pierre Matisse Gallery which lasted for many years. His works were acquired by the most prestigious collections in Europe and America. In 1962 Riopelle represented Canada at the Venice Biennale. At the end of the 1960s, the artist returned to his homeland and dedicated his creative imagination to the grandeur of nature in Canada.

In 1963 Riopelle was exhibited in the Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal and in 1967 - in the Museum of Quebec. In 1972 he was shown in the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. During1981-1982 a large exhibition dedicated to Riopelle took place in the National Museum of Modern Art (Centre Georges Pompidou) in Paris, in the Museum of Quebec and in the Montreal Museum of Modern Art.

Riopelle's legacy, which includes thousands of paintings, hundreds of engravings, many sculptures, collages, drawings in charcoal and works made of glazed lava, constitute a monument to the existential striving for freedom of creativity that took hold in Western society following the Second World War.

The exhibition brings together works of extraordinary importance and provides a brief overview, enabling the visitor to trace the master's artistic career from his first "Automatiste" experiments that liberated him from the constraints of figurative art and allowed him to acquire his unique visual language up to his final works in which we see signs of the reality around him. In his work Riopelle constantly strived to realize and to reconcile two great ideas which lie at the foundation of modern art: the indisputable autonomy of artistic images and the unavoidable presence of Nature in them.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has published a catalogue in English, French and, for the first time in Russian, especially for the exhibition in the Hermitage.

The curator of the exhibition for the State Hermitage is A.L. Rakova, senior researcher in the Department of History of Western European Art; the curator for the Canadian side is Stephane Aquin, Curator of Modern Art in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

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