Jean-Paul Riopelle was a multi-faceted artist who constantly reinvented his artistic practice. Riopelle’s many-sided creative power and insatiable nature will be centre-stage in this new gallery devoted to his work.
Riopelle’s art is tied up with the European and American avant-gardes of the twentieth century, whose members he associated with early in his career. It is also connected to questions around abstraction and figuration, with which Riopelle worked by turns according to his creative impulses. One constant, however, was his pursuit of vitality and diversity, whether he was applying paint in mosaics or returning to the figure in the 1960s. To many, he was our Picasso.
The body of work Riopelle created continues to fascinate and is the subject of research which, even recently, has brought out little-known aspects of his many-sided practice through study of his sculptures, prints and drawings. This constant rediscovery of his work’s ramifications reaffirms the range of his art and makes it possible to substitute other figures for André Breton’s legendary description of him as a “superior trapper” when he was welcomed into the Surrealist movement in the 1940s. Riopelle is a conveyor of sensibilities.
Everything points to Riopelle having covered more creative ground than that suggested by his well-known 1950s works – the majestic mosaics made with a spatula. He thus becomes an artist who dabbles in everything, one whose inventiveness has not yet been fully revealed. The works gathered together for this exhibition – paintings, bronzes, lithographs, collages – also demonstrate Riopelle’s extreme versatility and his unmatched thirst for creating.