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LOT 041

1923 - 2002

Chez naturel
oil on canvas
signed and dated 1974 and on verso titled, dated on the Mira Godard Gallery label, inscribed "PM 41" and "NW57OCTY" and stamped indistinctly
51 x 77 in 129.5 x 195.6 cm

Estimate: $500,000 - $700,000

Sold for: $541,250

Preview at: Heffel Toronto – 13 Hazelton Ave

Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York
Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto
Sold sale of Contemporary Art, Christie's London, October 27, 1994, lot 83
A Prominent European Private Collection

Jean Paul Riopelle: Paintings from 1974, Pastels from 1975, Pierre Matisse Gallery, 1975, reproduced
Robert Bernier, Jean Paul Riopelle: Des visions d'Amérique, 1997, reproduced page 57
Yseult Riopelle, Jean Paul Riopelle Catalogue Raisonné, Volume 5, 1972 - 1978, 2020

Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, Jean Paul Riopelle: Paintings from 1974, Pastels from 1975, 1975, catalogue #1

Jean Paul Riopelle acquired international renown in the mid-1950s, showing at the Venice Biennale in 1954 and Bienal de São Paulo in 1955. The 1960s were also punctuated by exhibitions that confirmed the artist’s place in the art world (the Venice Biennale in 1962, National Gallery of Canada in 1963, and Musée du Québec in 1967). Thus he entered the 1970s with strong Canadian and international recognition.

The 1970s were marked by several significant series, such as Jeux de ficelles (1971 to 1972), Le roi de Thulé (1973) and Icebergs (1977). In this decade, when the abstract coexisted with the figurative, the artist completed his final major series painted in oil.

In 1974, Riopelle was 51 and in his prime, with an annual output of more than 100 oil paintings and 60 works on paper. That year, he exhibited at the Galerie Maeght (Paris), Pierre Matisse Gallery (New York), Galleria Falci (Milan) and Galerie Gilles Corbeil (Montreal). Chez naturel (1974) would be presented the following year at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in the exhibition Jean Paul Riopelle: Paintings from 1974, Pastels from 1975. The work would also be reproduced in the catalogue.

Significantly, the year 1974 marked a time when Riopelle gradually got back to his Quebec roots. He had a house and studio built in Estérel, in the Laurentians, on land adjacent to that of his good friend Dr. Champlain Charest. From then on, he worked both in Quebec and at his French studio in Saint-Cyr-en-Arthies. Along with Dr. Charest, Riopelle became a member of a private hunting club in Île-aux-Oies (Chaudière-Appalaches) that same year. As Dr. Charest owned a seaplane, the two men were able to roam through Quebec, hunting, fishing and immersing themselves in nature. Does the enigmatic title Chez naturel bear witness to Riopelle’s increasingly frequent trips to Quebec and his expeditions of discovery throughout its vast territory?

Chez naturel features a bipartite composition that, though separated in the centre by a vertical axis, is unified at the bottom by the presence of the colour green, which runs the length of the canvas. The space on the left features fields of autumnal colours delineated by thick black lines that mark the horizontal axis of the painting. These lines create three masses surrounded by white, circumscribed forms that recall the artist’s output of the 1960s. On the right, Riopelle presents less of an architectural composition, where lines of colour intertwine, allowing a central field dominated by blue to emerge; this time, instead of being defined by a line, it is rather the colour that creates the form. In contrast to the section on the left, this all-over composition extends right to the edge of the frame. With his characteristic strokes of the palette knife, Riopelle has created a composition that demonstrates once again his great talent as a colourist.

We thank Andréanne Roy, art historian and curator of the exhibition Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures, showing at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, November 21, 2020 – March 21, 2021, for contributing the above essay. The show will travel in 2021 - 2022 to the Audain Art Museum, Whistler and the Glenbow Museum, Calgary.

Chez naturel will appear in the fifth volume of the catalogue raisonné of Jean Paul Riopelle being published this fall, covering works from 1972 to 1978, catalogue #1974.093H.

Estimate: $500,000 - $700,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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