Jean Paul Lemieux R.C.A.


oil on canvas
10x8 in.

A.K. Prakash, Toronto;
Masters Gallery Ltd., Calgary
Private collection, Calgary

Starting in the late 1950s, Jean Paul Lemieux’s artistic interests in memory and time culminated in a series of portraits of solitary figures against stark backgrounds. The years from 1956 until 1970 are referred to by critics as Lemieux’s classic period, and during this time his works would become imbued with the complex nature and loneliness of the human condition. By 1965, Lemieux, who had taught for many years at the École des beaux-arts de Quebec, would retire and devote himself entirely to painting.

In Alexandre we see a young man, dressed to the nines in a suit and bow tie that’s nearly as big as his head. We don’t know who Alexandre is, or what he’s dressed up for, but he peers out from his portrait with the corners of his red mouth slightly upturned in a slight smile. Despite his anonymity, he is filled with humanity. In many cases, Lemieux would paint figures from his own memories, conjuring them up onto the canvas: “I am painting … an interior world,” he once noted, “I have stored up a lot of things.”

Jean-Paul Lemieux, painter (b at Québec C, Qué 18 Nov 1904; d at Montréal, Qué 7 Nov 1990). Lemieux’s artistic universe is often classified as one of northern landscapes, flat, barren and infinite, but this preoccupation was only one characteristic of his work. He attended the École des beaux-arts in…