"When I step in front of my canvas, I have nothing prepared. I am naked: I am completely free. I don't have a subject in mind, nor a title, not even a colour scheme. Nothing." Léon Bellefleur

Leon Bellefleur was born in Montreal on February 8, 1910. In 1926, he enrolled at the École Normale Jacques-Cartier and after three years obtained his diploma in pedagogy. As a result of his education, Bellefleur was hired to teach elementary school by the Catholic School Commission of Montreal, a position he held for 25 years. Bellefleur had the freedom to develop his art during his summer holidays and in the evenings from 1929 to 1938, while attending drawing classes at the École des Beaux-Arts in Montreal.


Bellefleur joined the group, Prisme d'Yeux along, with Albert Dumouchel, Jacques de Tonnancour, Louis Archambault and others. He exhibited with the group and joined them in signing their manifesto in 1948. The group's ideals were a reaction to Quebec's, Les Automatistes, who called for an approach of freedom of expression. Through the association with these artists, Bellefleur became interested in the Surrealist preoccupation of the subconscious as a source of inspiration. Towards the end of the decade, he became interested in the work of Russian artist, Wassily Kandinsky and the Spanish artist, Juan Miró.


After his retirement in 1954, Bellefleur was able to pursue his art career full time. He frequently took extended trips to Europe, particularly to Provence and Paris, where he set up a studio. Over the next ten years he experimented with different painting techniques and played with ways of applying paint to various surfaces. He also engaged in lithography and etching.


 Bellefleur returned to Quebec permanently in 1966. The National Gallery of Canada held a retrospective exhibition for Bellefleur in 1968 that boosted his career. Québec publishing houses, Éditions de l'hexagone and Éditions du Noroît, frequently commissioned Bellefleur to create illustrations for their publications. He continued to create lyrical and surrealist influenced painting, drawings, and prints through the 1980s.


 Exhibitions at Galerie Walter Klinkhoff

1977, 1985.


Solo Exhibitions

Maison des Compagnons, Montréal, 1946;

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (with Fritz Brandtner), 1950;

Agnès Lefort Gallery, Montreal, 1951, 1955;

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal (with Anne Kahane), 1954;

Galerie l'Actuelle, Montréal, 1956;

Galerie Denyse Delrue, Montréal, 1957, 1958, 1960;

Dresdnere Gallery, Montreal, 1961;

Here and Now Gallery (Dorothy Cameron Gallery), Toronto, 1961;

"A la gloire de la main" (To the glory of the hand), Claude Haeffely Gallery, Montreal (with Roland Giguère and Gerard Tremblay), 1963;

Galerie du Siècle, Montréal, 1964, 1966;

Galerie Connaître, Paris, 1965;

Roberts Gallery, Toronto, 1966, 1968, 1971;

Galerie l'Atelier, Quebec, 1967;

Blue Barn Gallery, Ottawa, 1967;

National Gallery of Canada Ottawa (this retrospective will also be exhibited at the London Public Library and Art Museum and at the Contemporary Art Museum of Montreal), 1968;

Galerie Michel Champagne, Québec, 1969;

Damkjar Gallery, Hamilton (with Jack Shadbolt), 1972;

Upper Street Gallery, London, 1973;

Downstairs Gallery, Edmonton (with Shadbolt and Michael Forster), 1974;

Galerie Les Deux "B", Saint Antoine sur Richelieu, Quebec, 1975, 1979;

Internationale Gallery, Ribe, Denmark, 1975;

Galerie Charlotte Frenette, Québec (with Giguère and Tremblay), 1981;

Frederick Palardy Gallery, Saint Lambert, Quebec, 1982.


 Group Exhibitions

Contemporary Art Society, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948;

Canadian Art Exhibition, André-Grasset College, Montreal, 1944;

Spring Exhibition, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (from now on Bellefleur will be included in nearly all the Museum spring exhibitions), 1947;

Travelling exhibition in Belgium, organized by the Association for Artistic and Intellectual Progress of Wallonie, 1950;

Second International COBRA Exhibition, Liere, 1951;

First Biennial Exhibition, Sao Paulo, 1951;

Recent Quebec Paintings, travelling show in Canada and the United States, organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Vancouver Art Gallery, 1951;

Canadian Group of Painters, Art Gallery of Toronto, 1952;

International Phases Exhibition, Galerie Creuse, Paris, 1955;

International Engraving and Drawing Exhibition, Lugano, Switzerland, 1956;

Association of Non-Figurative Artists of Montreal, Helene de Champlain Restaurant, Montreal, 1956;

Second Biennial of Canadian Art, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1957;

International Engraving Exhibition, Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, 1957;

Trente-cinq peintres dans l'actualité, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1957;

Twelve Painters of Montreal, St. Helen's Island, 1957;

Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto (with Borduas, Mousseau and Riopelle), 1957;

Four Painters of Quebec, Art Gallery of Toronto (with Fernand Leduc, Lemieux and Picher), 1957;

Canada Pavilion, Universal Exhibition of Brussels, 1958;

Third Biennial Exhibition of Canadian Art, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1959;

International Exhibition for the Guggenheim Honours, Guggenheim Museum, New York (with Alleyn, Borduas, Riopelle and Town), 1960;

Fourth Biennial Exhibition of Canadian Art, National Gallery of Canada, 1961;

Canadian Art, Galerie Arditti, Paris (with Alleyn, Borduas, Ferron, Lefebvre and Riopelle); this exhibition was also shown in Milan, Zurich and Turin, 1962;

Canadian Modern, Art Spolete, Italy, 1962;

Surrealism in Canadian Painting, London Public Library and Art Museum, 1964;

Three Hundred Years of Canadian Art, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1967;

Panorama of the Art in Quebec, 1940-1966, Contemporary Art Museum, Montreal, 1967;

Three generations of Quebecois art, 1940-1950-1960, Contemporary Art Museum, Montreal, 1976;

Tendances actuelles au Québec, Contemporary Art Museum, Montreal, 1978;

The Contemporary Art Society, Montreal 1939-1948, travelling exhibition organized by the Edmonton Art Gallery, 1980.


Awards and Honours

Jessie Dow Prize, Spring Exhibition, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1951;

Prize for painting, Commonwealth Contest, Vancouver, 1956. Prize for drawing, Second Biennial Exhibition of Canadian Art, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1957;

Scholarship for research by the Arts Council, 1958. Canada, represented by Alleyn, Bellefleur; Borduas, Riopelle and Town, received the Guggenheim Prize for the best national presentation Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1960;

Scholarship for research by the Arts Council, 1968;

Borduas Prize, Government of Canada, 1977.


 Public Collections

The National Gallery of Canada;

The Contemporary Art Museum;

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts;

The Museum of Quebec;

Art Gallery of Ontario;

London Art Gallery;

Hamilton Art Gallery;

Tel-Aviv Museum.

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