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Jean Paul Lemieux, CC, GOQ, R.C.A. (1904-1990)
Les Enfants de la Paix, c. 1980s
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Galerie Alan Klinkhoff - Jean Paul Lemieux, CC, GOQ, R.C.A. (1904-1990)
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Galerie Alan Klinkhoff - Jean Paul Lemieux, CC, GOQ, R.C.A. (1904-1990) Galerie Alan Klinkhoff - Jean Paul Lemieux, CC, GOQ, R.C.A. (1904-1990)
JEAN PAUL LEMIEUX, CC, GOQ, R.C.A. (1904-1990)
Les Enfants de la Paix, c. 1980s
Oil on canvas 24" x 36"
Signed, l.r. `Jean Paul Lemieux`.
Private Collection, Toronto.
  More about this painting  
This picture, which shows a circle of children in a typical landscape of Jean Paul Lemieux, belongs to the very end of the painter’s career. This explains the slightly loose style of painting and the neutral landscape in which they are situated. As if he was less sure of his handling of paint, Lemieux paints with broad brush strokes and is not too worried about the atmospheric effects in the sky at the background of his composition, but still shows a moon behind the clouds. The ground is littered with small blue, white or orange spots, which are difficult to interpret as flowers. Note, however, the original ways in which the shadows of the feet of the children are depicted. The temptation to make old age responsible of this way of painting may come - we were used to another style in the Lemieux of an earlier period.

But perhaps there is another explanation for the speed of the notations and the simplification of the image, which we can describe as expressionist. Towards the end of his life, Lemieux became more and more worried about the international political situation. The development of nuclear arms by the great nations put in peril not only the environment, but threatened the very survival of the human species. Lemieux, who always painted human subjects that were difficult to personalize, reduces reduced them to a pure presence, to the point that I was tempted to define them by the concept of Dasein, as found in the writings of the philosopher Heidegger (Dasein simply means to be there). War scenes show up in his painting, where we see soldiers with helmets and weapons charging the crowd. Views of destroyed cities, a subject that seems to have fascinated him, appear also. Lemieux, who had painted cities seen from a distance, behind hills and fields in the foreground or covered by snow, now painted sinister view of cities emptied of their inhabitants, with walls destroyed and doors opening into nothing.

We are then less astonished by this composition of children forming this ‘circle of peace’. We find again those neutral faces, showing no joy nor pleasure, neither wrath or sadness. Peace is consistent with equanimity. Or, to refer once more to Heidegger, these children are a perfect example of mitsein, the concept of “togetherness”, before any identification to a nation, a political party or a religion. These children are the only hope in this hellish world that troubled Lemieux at the end of his life. Notice on the right that the circle is not closed and that a little girl tries to enter in it. If all the children of the world were holding hands...Lemieux seems to say, we could hope to avoid the catastrophe that threatens us.

Francois-Marc Gagnon, PhD
 Jean Paul Lemieux Biography 
Jean Paul Lemieux was born in Quebec City, Quebec. He is particularly recognized for his paintings of the desolate, seemingly infinite spaces of the landscapes and cities of Quebec. Many of his works are permeated with an intense feeling of mystery.

Lemieux studied at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal from 1926-29. After graduation he spent a year in Paris, where he met Clarence Gagnon. He returned to the École des beaux-arts de Montréal from 1931-35 to obtain a teaching diploma. In 1935 he taught at the École du meuble, then moved to the École des beaux-arts in Québec in 1937, remaining there until 1967. Lemieux then moved to Île-aux-Coudres, Quebec, where he spent the rest of his life.

Jean Paul Lemieux has received numerous honours throughout his career including the Louis-Philippe Hébert Prize; the Molson Prize for the Canada Council; the Order of Canada and the National Order of Quebec. He was honoured by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts by a major retrospective exhibition in 1967. Subsequent tribute exhibitions were organized by the Musée du Québec and the National Gallery of Canada. Lemieux's work can be found in important public and private collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Museum London, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Musée du Québec.

Lemieux died in Quebec City, in 1990, at the age of 86. Following his death, he was made member of l'Académie des Grands Québécois (1990) and Grand Officer of the National Order of Québec (1997). Furthermore, retrospective exhibitions were held at the Musée National des beaux-arts du Québec in 1992, 2004 and 2007, and at the National Gallery of Canada in 2004.

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