Artwork by Léon Bellefleur,  Rituel

Léon Bellefleur

oil on canvas
signed and dated 1985 lower right; signed, titled, dated and inscribed “huile 80F” on the reverse
58 x 45 ins ( 147.3 x 114.3 cms )

Sold for $19,550.00
Sale date: November 23rd 2017

Moore Gallery, Toronto
Private Collection, New Brunswick
Guy Robert, Bellefleur: The Fervour of the Quest, Montreal, 1988, pages 63 and 134
Author Guy Robert declared that in 1985, at age seventy-five, Leon Bellefleur “still possessed the childlike ability to wonder at life, a freshness of perspective with a thirst not only for discovering, but also for inventing the world.” The author further writes that Bellefleur maintained his characteristic painterly style throughout thirty years: colours spread liberally with a spatula, with the refinement of rhythms and shades, then as a finishing touch to the improvisation, squirts or droplets are added, or small mysterious signs traced with the tip of the tool. Robert’s observations and remarks can certainly be applied to “Rituel”, a bold and expressive abstract composition that is quintessentially Bellefleur in its ‘faceted’ paint application. The oil on canvas demonstrates one new technique developed by Bellefleur to finish a painting: after letting it “breathe” for a few hours up to several days, the painter sprinkled droplets of paint in varying quantity and size, according to the inspiration of the moment and chance mishaps. “Rituel” is scattered with small drops of white and green pigment, adding further dimensionality to the abstract work. The large canvas serves as a prime example of Bellefleur’s mature work on a grand scale.

“If this is what advancing age has in store, artists should look forward with anticipation and hurry to reach that plateau,” commented Lawrence Sabbath of the “Montreal Gazette” in covering an exhibition of Bellefleur’s gouaches and oils at the Walter Klinkhoff Gallery in 1985.
Secured from a New Brunswick collection during Consignor’s 2017 national appraisal tour, this artwork attracted spirited bidding during the November live auction of Important Canadian Art.

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Léon Bellefleur
(1910 - 2007) RCA

Léon Bellefleur was born in Montreal, Quebec in 1910. By the age of ten he was painting landscapes and still lifes on cardboard cut from grocery store cartons. He knew he had a passion for art and wanted to be a painter from the age of twelve, but was advised against this vocation by well-meaning family and friends concerned for his financial welfare. After completing secondary education, Bellefleur obtained his teaching certificate from the Jacques Cartier Normal School in Montreal (1929). His choice of profession enabled him to earn a steady income while pursuing his passion during school holidays. Bellefleur taught in schools of the French Catholic School Commission system for the following twenty-five years (1929–1954) while attending evening classes at the École des Beaux-Arts in Montreal (1929–1936).

In 1942, Bellefleur met Alfred Pellan. At Pellan's studio, he was introduced to Albert Dumouchel, Jacques de Tonnancour, Jeanne Rhéaume and Goodridge Roberts. Most of these artists were members of the Contemporary Art Society, which Bellefleur joined in 1943. He had his first solo show in 1946. In 1948 he signed the manifesto of ‘Prisme d’Yeux’, drafted by Jacques de Tonnancour and representing the interests of a group of artists from the Contemporary Art Society. Bellefleur was also interested in Paul-Émile Borduas’ group–the ‘Automatistes’. Both groups were influenced by the Surrealist movement. Bellefleur was especially interested in the art of Paul Klee and children’s art. Although the Prisme d’Yeux was shortlived, Bellefleur exhibited with them at the two exhibitions they held.

In 1950, Bellefleur held his second solo show at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The following year, he won the Jessie Dow prize in Modern Painting at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ Spring Exhibition. In the same year, he was chosen to participate in the ‘Jeunes Peintres Canadiens’ Exhibit in Europe and at the ‘Biennale of Sao Paulo’ in Brazil. In 1954 Bellefleur retired from teaching. He travelled to France where he settled for the next twelve years, regularly visiting Canada. He was awarded a Scholarship from the Canada Council for the Arts in 1959. In 1960 he represented Canada at the Guggenheim Museum in New York with fellow artists Paul-Émile Borduas, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Edmund Alleyn and Harold Town. In 1965 Bellefleur returned to Canada and settled in Quebec.

In 1968 he received a second Scholarship from the Canada Council for the Arts and the National Gallery of Canada organized a retrospective show of his work. In 1977, Bellefleur received the first ever Paul-Émile Borduas Prize. This distinction enhanced his reputation as an important Canadian Artist. In 1987, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Concordia University in Montreal.