Artwork by Léon Bellefleur,  Les écluses

Léon Bellefleur
Les écluses

acrylic on canvas
signed and dated 1970 lower left; signed, titled and dated 1970 on the reverse
25.75 x 32.25 ins ( 65.4 x 81.9 cms )

Auction Estimate: $15,000.00$12,000.00 - $15,000.00

Price Realized $22,800.00
Sale date: October 26th 2021

Private Collection, Montreal
The work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Galerie Valentin.

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Léon Bellefleur
(1910 - 2007) RCA

Born in Montréal, Quebec, in 1910, Leon Bellefleur knew by age twelve that he wanted to become a painter. At ten years old, Bellefleur began painting landscapes on found cardboard from the grocery store. He earned a teaching diploma in 1929. Bellefleur attended evening classes until 1936 at the École des Beaux-Arts where he found himself admiring the works by Rembrandt and Balzac. In 1940, Bellefleur met Alfred Pellan and other artists associated with Prisme d’Yeux, such as Albert Dumouchel and Jacques de Tonnancour, throughout the decade. Working in opposition to the Automatistes, Prisme d’Yeujc did not have an overarching aesthetic and valued the spirituality of painting as a media. Considered to be a surrealist, Bellefleur explores the conscious through painting, lithography, and etching.

Bellefleur’s abstract depictions were influenced by Paul Klee, a German modernist, as well as children’s art. Bellefleur believed that children hold special creative abilities and that these skills can be curated through adolescence and into adulthood. He was particularly inspired by the direct and extemporaneous forms of communication that are found in children’s art. After receiving a Canada Council Fellowship, Bellefleur traveled to Paris in 1958. While in Paris he studied engraving under J. Friedlaender and lithography with Ateliers Desjobert. Following his time spent in France, he developed his faceted painting style. This style involved painting non-figurative compositions with a palette knife.

Beginning in 1946, Bellefleur began exhibiting in global art galleries. First, in the Maison des Compagnons at a Children’s Drawing Exhibition. Then in 1951, he participated in Cobra’s Second International Exhibition in Liège, Belgium. In the same year, his oil paintings won the Jessie Dow award and received honourable mention for his drawings in the Second Biennial Exhibition of Canadian Art. In 1960, he was selected to represent Canada at the Guggenheim International Contest alongside five other painters. Bellefleur’s first retrospective took place at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa in 1968. This exhibition later traveled to London, Ont., and Montréal. In 1977, Bellefleur became the first recipient of the Borduas Prize. He also received the Louis-Philippe Hébert Prize from the Société-Saint-Jean-Baptiste in 1985, as well as an honorary doctorate degree from Concordia University in 1987. He was included in the Royal Canadian Academy in 1989.

Literature Sources:
Roberts, Guy. “Léon Bellefleur: Autour de quelques propos de l’artiste.” La Société La Vie des Arts 32, no. 128, September 1987
A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume I: A-F", compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1977

We extend our thanks to Danie Klein, York University graduate student in art history, for writing and contributing this artist biography.