Leon Bellefleur R.C.A.

Sans Titre No. 1, Paris, 1955

oil on canvas
7.25x10 in.

Private collection, Toronto;
Canadian Fine Arts, Toronto;
Masters Gallery Ltd., Calgary;
Private collection

Bellefleur spent most of his early painting career teaching elementary school, and so when he retired in 1954, he was able to devote himself to his practice and left for Paris to study engraving that same year (1). Bellefleur was a signatory of the Prisme d’Yeux in 1948, a response to the Refus Global Manifesto that challenged the Automatises’ “overly narrow definition of avant garde in painting” (2). In this period of his career, he was heavily influenced by Pellan, Kandinsky, Miro and other Surrealist artists, and drew from the subconscious to create work. Much of Bellefleur’s compositions from this period saw centralized abstracted figures, glowing against dark, misty backgrounds. Organic figures swirl and glow in Sans Titre No. 1, contrasting beautifully against the misty background from which they emerge.

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…