Montreal 1923 - 2002 Ile-aux-Grues
Born in Montreal in 1923, Jean-Paul Riopelle is one of the most important representatives of the Informel and abstract expressionism. Riopelle's style quickly changed in the 1940s and after moving to Paris from surrealism to lyrical abstraction, a variation of abstract expressionism in which he used countless turbulent and colored squares and triangles, often created using a spatula or trowel on large canvases. His voluminous impasto became as important as the colour. His oil painting technique allowed him to paint thick layers and create peaks and valleys when plenty of paint was applied to the surface of the canvas. The 1960s became a kind of "heroic" decade of his work and life. In 1959 he began a relationship with the American painter Joan Mitchell, that is now considered one of the most fascinating romances between artists. In the 1960s, they lived together and maintained separate houses and studios near Giverny, where Monet had lived. They influenced each other intellectually as well as artistically, but their relationship was stormy, yet existed until 1979. In terms of Riopelle's artistic career, too, this decade marks a high point in his international reputation after he had already participated in documenta II and III in the 1950s. He was the only artist to represent Canada at the 1962 Venice Biennial. Subsequently, retrospectives of Riopelle's works took place in the National Gallery of Canada in 1963, a small exhibition in 1967 in the Musée du Québec, 1971 in the Fondation Maeght (Saint Paul-de-Vence, France) and 1972 in the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. A large retrospective showed his work in 1981 at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and other major museums, while Riopelle turned away from classical painting more and more. Instead, he experimented with spray paints under the influence of graffiti art and dealt with sculptures and the design of outdoor spaces. Jean Paul Riopelle died in 2002 on the Isle-aux-Grues in Québec.