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Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923-2002) - Biography

"My purpose is not abstraction. It's moving towards free gesture; it's trying to understand what is nature."

Although Jean-Paul Riopelle had moved to Paris in 1946, he is regarded as an integral part of the artistic revolution that took place in Montreal in the late 1940's.

Riopelle formed a group of artists that worked and exhibited together that became known as the Automatistes for their spontaneous method of painting which drew on the subconcious as a source. In 1942, Riopelle studied at Montreal's Ecole de beaux arts and under Paul-Emile Borduas at the Ecole de meuble. There he came into contact with Surrealist theories of Automatism that encouraged a spontaneous expression of the subconcious in art. With Borduas's encouragement, Jean-Paul made his first abstract painting. Recognized aboard by the late 1940s, Riopelle had achieved international success by the 1950s.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien issued this statement on the news of the death of Riopelle on March 13, 2002: "Throughout the world, the name Riopelle is pronounced with the same reverence and the same familiarity as the names of artists and writers such as Picasso and Beckett. He was among those who most heavily influenced the history of the visual arts in the twentieth century, primarily by his adherence to the automatistes school. He leaves us a body of work characterized by passion and intensity where talent is equalled only by a love of life. Jean-Paul Riopelle, painter, sculptor and lover of fine arts, has left us."

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