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    Sale 12245

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Day Auction

    7 October 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 336

    JEAN-PAUL RIOPELLE (1923-2002)

    Untitled

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    JEAN-PAUL RIOPELLE (1923-2002)
    Untitled
    signed 'Riopelle' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    32 1/8 x 45 ¾in. (81.5 x 116.2cm.)
    Painted in 1959


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    “I remember Riopelle’s studio in Montmartre, all vibrant with the act of creation, as if a tempest had befallen the walls, every available surface carpeted and gloriously stained with oil paint, wrecks and crumbs of paintings, everything cut and scarred and enduring it joyfully, and he, Riopelle, arrogantly master of paint and canvas, almost in a trance, exuberant and magically alive with the burden of all that was about to be transcribed into painting: a warrior about to do battle.” (P. BOUDREAU, ‘Preface’, in Riopelle, London 1959, unpaged.)

    Painted in 1959, Jean-Paul Riopelle’s Untitled envelops the viewer in a scintillating environment of dancing forms. His highly gestural brushstrokes map out linear entanglements of colour that imply stalagmitic patterns and imbue the work with a frenetic energy. Riopelle sculpts his paint across the canvas in tempestuous and jagged lines, using a palette knife to develop a rich impasto that invigorates the work’s surface. The colour transitions from earthly hues of rusted burgundy, verdant green and indigo to a celestial white muddled with shadowy tones that guide the viewer’s line of sight across the canvas and introduce chromatic harmony to the composition. These mosaic forms and kaleidoscopic flashes of colour evoke the dense woods and rugged landscape of Riopelle’s native Canada.
    Riopelle’s uninhibited, improvisatory language can partly be attributed to his time spent in Paris in the 1940s, where he was inspired by the Surrealist method of automatic painting. Riopelle regarded Surrealism as integral to his belief that a meaningful composition bypasses rationality and representation, becoming an embodiment rather than a replication of nature. His rejection of conscious thought became the means for Riopelle to articulate his personal relationship to the surrounding environment. ‘The painting must work itself out,’ the artist explained. ‘I never tell myself, for instance, that I have to paint like this or like that to get one effect or another. If I reach that point, I stop. It’s dangerous ... because then I am on the technical side of painting. There is always some solution to improve a painting that isn’t working. But this does not interest me. It loses its emotional unity. Because technique will unfortunately always win out’ (J.-P. Riopelle, quoted in M. Waldberg, ‘Riopelle, The Absolute Gap’, in Y. Riopelle, Jean-Paul Riopelle: Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I 1939-1954, Montreal 1999, pp. 39-54). While superficially Riopelle’s composition resembles of the work of Surrealists, his non-geometric abstraction and energetic handling of paint also invites comparison with Abstract Expressionist painters such as Jackson Pollock, as well as Joan Mitchell, with whom he began a relationship with around the time of the present work. Painted well into Riopelle’s adoption of this fluid style, and just a few years prior to his receipt of the UNESCO award at the 1962 Venice Biennale, the work’s vibrantly convoluted forms, richly pigmented colours and dynamic technique testify to a fruitful period in his artistic career.
    “I remember Riopelle’s studio in Montmartre, all vibrant with the act of creation, as if a tempest had befallen the walls, every available surface carpeted and gloriously stained with oil paint, wrecks and crumbs of paintings, everything cut and scarred and enduring it joyfully, and he, Riopelle, arrogantly master of paint and canvas, almost in a trance, exuberant and magically alive with the burden of all that was about to be transcribed into painting: a warrior about to do battle.”

    Provenance

    Private Collection since the 1980s.


    Exhibited

    Stockholm, CFHill Art Space, Ten by Ten, 2016.