Getting to Know Jean-Paul Lemieux

Jean-Paul Lemieux's Evening Visitor, 1956, at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa

On Saturday afternoon I took a drive out to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. The gallery is just outside of Toronto — in Kleinburg, near Canada’s Wonderland — but it’s log-and-stone buildings and treed surrounds makes the place feel like an Algonquin retreat. It’s a refreshing escape so close to the city, and while there I was delighted to discover a great Canadian artist that I hadn’t previously heard about: Jean-Paul Lemieux. I only noticed a couple of the Quebecer’s works among all the pieces by Tom Thomson, Emily Carr and the Group of Seven, but Lemieux’s paintings made an impression with their minimal, graphic quality. I like how he captured the desolate, vast landscape of rural Quebec — in particular the harsh, snowy weather and long grey skies.

The specific piece that caught my eye isn’t the one pictured above, though it is similar. Called Solstice d’Hiver, the painting shows a bundled-up young girl. She’s moving across a frozen, inhospitable landscape all alone. She doesn’t really look sad or worried or in pain. She just looks resigned to the haunting, overwhelming landscape that surrounds her. The painting is in the Gallery 1, if you’re ever there. I highly recommend a look.

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2 thoughts on “Getting to Know Jean-Paul Lemieux

  1. His work is very surreal – glad you brought his work out to be discovered. I love the Quebec artists – how their rural and catholic influences are just different enough from the mainly Anglo experience of Ontario to be compelling. I know of his work – but haven’t seen it in a long time. Nice review.
    Have you seen the work of Ben Shahn? – similarly gripping and stark images – almost illustrative.

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