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Jean Paul Lemieux
Printemps 2015 - 1ère séance Vente en salle

Lot # 064

Jean Paul Lemieux
CC QMG RCA 1904 - 1990 Canadian

L'émigré
oil on canvas 1965
signed
19 x 25 1/2 pouces  48.3 x 64.8cm

Provenance:
Galerie Dresdnere, Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto

Référence:
“Jean Paul Lemieux,” National Gallery of Canada, http://www.gallery.ca/en/see/collections/artist.php?iartistid=3221, para. 1, accessed March 10, 2015

Jean Paul Lemieux described his paintings in direct and memorable terms in 1967: “I have no theories. In my landscapes and my characters I try to express the solitude we all have to live with, and in each painting, the inner world of my memories. My external surroundings only interest me because they allow me to paint my inner world." L'émigré (The Emigrant) captures just these qualities of emotional and aesthetic honesty, characteristics that have made Lemieux one of the most beloved and acclaimed Canadian artists of the twentieth century.
L'émigré is a masterpiece of subtlety, tone and mood. The portrait of the young man that fills the right half of the canvas catches our eye first, but Lemieux is careful not to have this figure dominate his image completely. Characteristically, the work is open and spacious: almost two-thirds of the area is sky, painted in understated light grey-green washes that are variants on the hues of the man’s green hat and coat and his blond hair. Overcast though it certainly is, this sky has a luminous quality that is perhaps reflected in the expression on the man’s face. It is a winter scene, to be sure, but bleakness is not the message. We are compelled to speculate on the man’s mood. His expression is quiet, inner, rather than blank or downcast. Lemieux’s masterly orchestration of balance in this painting suggests that the man’s countenance is quietly hopeful.
We soon notice that the landscape - or cityscape - that preoccupies Lemieux in L’émigré is no mere backdrop for the figure. The painter shows us a surprisingly large city, its many skyscrapers melding into the horizon as they increase in magnitude. Cars and figures are visibly in motion along a road that cuts diagonally across the image, and these elements help to compose the deep space behind the young man. The painter skilfully melds the figure and his surroundings by making their colour continuous - for example, in addition to the greens of the figure and sky, the man’s white shirt connects him to the snow-covered expanse in the foreground. Lemieux also suggests both the figure’s connection to and movement out of this landscape with two techniques: the torso is cropped like a photograph on the right-hand side of the canvas, implying that we see an incomplete moment, and thus movement is implied. Even more effectively, the man’s right arm seems to be swinging as if he is walking towards us, an effect Lemieux accomplishes by depicting the edge of this arm along three closely contiguous planes, the left-most one (as we view the work) feathered with white and green brush-strokes so that it almost blends with the snow behind it.
“Emigrant” is not a word we see often. We are more accustomed, in a Canadian context, to thinking about immigrants - those who come to a place rather than leave one. Of course, we do not have full access to the inner world of the man depicted; the mystery is part of what makes Lemieux's works so appealing. The man could be standing in front of a new city in which he has just arrived. But is it not possible to think that the man is leaving the city we see behind him and moving forward, setting out in a new direction in life? Such a reading would make sense of his youth and of his subtly prominent red tie.
We thank Mark Cheetham, Professor of Art History at the University of Toronto, for contributing the above essay.

Estimation: 125,000 $ ~ 175,000 $ CAN

S'est vendu pour: 119,998.90 $ CAN (prime d'achat incluse)


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