Jean-Paul Riopelle R.C.A.

Repaire, 1957

oil on canvas
26x33 in.

Riopelle Catalogue No. 1956.002H.1957

1957, Post Picasso Paris, Hanover Gallery, London, catalogue no. 38

Yseult Riopelle, Catalogue raisonné de Jean Paul Riopelle, vol II, 1954-59, p. 246

Jean Paul Riopelle’s exploration of oil paint was at its zenith in the 1950s. With this supple, responsive, and malleable material, he was able to achieve rich texture, layered colour, and sensual blends. His Mosaïques from this time period are considered his most famous works, wherein “the sharply juxtaposed strokes of the palette knife created shattered, virtually kaleidoscopic color motifs.” He was extremely prolific during this time, executing over one hundred paintings yearly, in a wide range of sizes.

Repaire is a delicious work. Within the framework colours of black, red, blue, and green, Riopelle gives us proof of the remarkable possibilities of luxurious paint applied by an exuberant palette knife. Blocky, solid red contrasts with angular black and a peek of sweeping blue. Held in is the riot of colour in the areas dominated by white, applied with licking strokes that create sensuous blends. Blacks break through thrice more, solidly on the right, and in blended hues immediately above the area of red, with a delightful passage of orange over their shoulders. To discuss this work in terms of its colour theory seems too pedantic an approach. Instead, a visual revel its beauty feels more appropriate, leading us to recognize the joy of colour, contemplate the vigour and wildness with which this work was created, and to allow it to work its magic on our visual senses.

Jean Paul Riopelle was born in 1923 in Montreal, Quebec. Interested in both art and drafting from an early age, Riopelle’s artistic endeavours were originally based in Academic-style still-life and landscape works He attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts briefly before moving on to study at the École du Meuble in…