Artwork by Jean-Philippe Dallaire,  Exotic Village

Jean-Philippe Dallaire
Exotic Village

oil on canvas
signed lower left; signed, titled, dated 1964 and inscribed “Vence A.M. France” on the reverse
23.5 x 28.5 in ( 59.7 x 72.4 cm )

Auction Estimate: $35,000.00$25,000.00 - $35,000.00

Price Realized $31,200.00
Sale date: May 30th 2024

Dominion Gallery, Montreal
Galerie Claude Lafitte, Montreal
Private Collection
Jean-Phillipe Dallaire travelled to Paris to continue his studies in 1938, encountering the work of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Joan Miró. Dallaire returned to Canada following the Second World War, and incorporated the influences of Surrealism, Cubism and mythological themes into his art. A highly idiosyncratic painter, Dallaire experimented ceaselessly, pushing his original style in new directions. Painted in the last year or so of the artist’s tragically short life, "Exotic Village" pulsates with shadowy dabs that play across the bright colour palette. The fanciful and simplified line work is reminiscent of the art of Paul Klee. An uncanny array of forms include a surreal figure, strange machinery and a fish-like shape taking startling flight. Dreamlike and playful, these lively, biomorphic forms seem to be drawn from the unfiltered subconscious of the artist.

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Jean-Philippe Dallaire
(1916 - 1965)

Jean-Philippe Dallaire, the painter, illustrator and professor was born at Hull, Quebec on June 9, 1916. He was raised in a working-class family of 15, and started drawing at age 11. He studied art at the technical school in Hull in 1934; at the Toronto Central Technical School under Charles Goldhammer, Peter Haworth, and sculpture with Elizabeth Wyn Wood in 1935. He studied the Old Masters at Boston in 1936.

From 1936 to 1938 he painted religious murals for the Dominican Fathers near Ottawa and at Fall River, Massachusetts and about this time did large figure studies on the walls of Madam Burger’s restaurant destroyed by the fire which levelled her first famous earring house. In October 1938, with the support of a Quebec government grant, Dallaire went to Paris and studied under Maurice Denis, Georges Desvallières and at André L’Hote’s school. He became familiar with the work of Picasso and the surrealists and met Alfred Pellan.

During World War Two, while under the German occupation in France he was a prisoner at St-Denis, outside Paris. He continued to paint in his confinement, but his wife was released after six months. While interned he come to know Frank Pickersgill who escaped but later died in another camp. On his return to Canada in 1946, he taught painting at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Quebec City. He later worked for the National Film Board in Ottawa illustrating animated films. He also filled commissions of designing tapestries.

Writing on the artist, Donald W. Buchanan brought out that Dallaire’s art had been affected by years of internment, by cubist analysis of form, the decorative possibilities and limitations of tapestry design in which he had specialized, and his sensitivities to the myths of French Canada against the realities of Canada today. Buchanan further wrote, “. . . he is obtaining a firm monumentality of design in his canvases. The question is, will he continue to achieve this without losing that gay freedom of detail which has always been such an attraction in his smaller works . . .” At the beginning of the same article Buchanan had spoken of Dallaire’s fantasies often verging on comedy in which melancholy lurked.

He then lived and painted in Montreal from 1957 to 1959. In '59 he moved to Europe permanently. He died of heart failure in 1965, thus ending prematurely a brilliant career. He is represented in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Museum of the Province of Quebec. Dallaire's works show varied stylistic influences and are always recognized by their draftsmanship and spontaneity in subject and use of colour.

Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume I: A-F", compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1977