Leon Bellefleur R.C.A.

Nostalgie, 1962

oil on canvas
13.75x10.75 in.

signed and dated ’62 lower right

Private collection, Montreal
Private collection, Calgary

Following the lead of the Automatistes, and partly in reaction to it, the group Prisme d’Yeux, under the leadership of Alfred Pellan, published a manifesto calling for freedom of expression in 1948. Bellefleur was a signatory. Prisme d’Yeux was interested in art that responded to ideas held in the subconscious, and Bellefleur’s experience as an elementary school teacher (for 25 years), combined with his interest in Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, would have resonated with this. Bellefleur’s works are often centered in the trappings of childhood: play, games, spontaneity, and naïve creativity. He was experimental, interested in the act of art making, the response of creative individual to paper, paint and canvas, and sensitive especially to surface, texture and composition. His works often have a centrally focused theme, wherein paint builds and moves out from the centre of the work, sometimes with a sense of purpose, in other works, as pure paint on canvas. He said, “When I step in from of my canvas, I have nothing prepared. I am naked: I am completely free. I don’t have a subject in mind, nor a title, not even a colour scheme. Nothing.”

Described by Paul Duval as a bridge between the prevailing influences of Paul Emile Borduas and Alfred Pellan, Montreal -born Léon Bellefleur is remembered for his richly textured abstractions and a historically precocious sense of fantasy. After receiving his teaching diploma in 1929 Bellefleur enrolled in evening classes at the…