Jean Paul Lemieux R.C.A.

Garcon en Rouge, c. 1970

oil on canvas
17.5x12.5 in.

Gerard Gorce, Montreal;
Private collection, Edmonton

Guy Robert, Lemieux, 1975, pp. 184-188;

Jean Paul Lemieux’s Garcon en Rouge is a compelling example of his work from the 1970s in which emotion begins to enter into his paintings. With elements of the spare, still, emotionally neutral images from the 1960s, and without the heavier brushwork that would come in the 1980s, this intimate work takes us directly into the eyes of the subject. A young boy in red, his collar tightly closed against the cold, gazes past us and over our shoulder. His eyes are drawn to the side and do not acknowledge us, diverted away in his own sphere, under a red cap that matches his coat. He is trapped in thoughts we can only guess at.

Lemieux’s ability to convey complex emotional states – or the complete absence of them – in his extremely spare brushwork, is universally noted. Here, he depicts so much with so little paint, leaving us to understand the rest on our own. With limited colour, limited volume, limited line, and an absence of detail, Lemieux gives us an ambiguous figure in an ambiguous landscape thinking ambiguous thoughts. The connection lies in the shared human experience – without regard to its particularity – that becomes the foremost concern of the work, with all elements that are extraneous to that removed. We cannot help but relate to this boy and to his experience, which, though the hand of Jean Paul Lemieux, somehow mirrors some aspect of our own.

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…