Death of Louis Belzile, the last of the Artists

Décès de Louis Belzile, dernier des Plasticiens

Photo: Galerie Simon Blais
Group Photo taken at an exhibition of the Association of non-figurative artists of Montreal, organized in the spring of 1957 at the YMCA, a view of the exhibition “Tribute to the early Artists,” held at the galerie Simon Blais in 2005. In the first row: Louis Belzile, left, and Fernand Toupin, right.

A chapter in the history of art in quebec had come to an end, with the death, on 12 February, Louis Belzile. 89-year-old, the painter and sculptor, a native of Rimouski, formed in Toronto and in Paris, was the last survivor of the first group of visual Artists.

With Jauran (1928-1959), Jean-Paul Jérôme (1928-2004) and Fernand Toupin (1930-2009), Belzile has formed a group whose weapons has been the publication, in 1955, of the Manifesto of the Artists.

Note that other artists so-called artists, no manifesto, will take the relay of the geometric painting and color. Of those, associated with the illustrious Guido Molinari, survives Claude Tousignant (b.1932).

At the time of the Manifesto of the Artists, abstract art in Quebec is in full expansion. The quartet artist contributes to, like the gallery in The Current, open in the same year by Molinari. In 1956, Belzile, Jauran, Jérôme and Toupin are among the founders of the Association of non-figurative artists of Montreal.

“The Artists focus […] the facts plastics : tone, texture, colors, shapes, lines, final unit that is on the table, and the relationships between these elements “, one reads in the paper of 1955. The manifesto appears seven years after the automatistes of Paul-Émile Borduas, refus global.


Décès de Louis Belzile, dernier des Plasticiens

Photo: MACM
Louis Belzile, “Meditation on the blue”, 1958

Under the pen of Jauran, pseudonym of Rodolphe de Repentigny, critical of The Press, the Artists call it intuition, ” a unique form of truth “, and are part of the history of the painting, notably that of Piet Mondrian. They concede that their “solution” is liable for payment of the ” revolution initiated by Borduas “, qualified, however, to ” germ “.

Geometric Compositions, angles, circles, truncated, fields of color well frank… painting of Louis Belzile, in the 1950s, is one of these ways. The key is less lyrical than in painting automatiste, but the gesture remains palpable.

Still active at an advanced age, Louis Belzile has paid minimal attention after the 1960s, moving away of the principles and visual artists. He nevertheless had a right to his retrospective in 1996 at the Musée du Bas-Saint-Laurent.

“As in Mondrian’s painting Belzile is based on a taste of the order. The relationship between forms and moral values […] would always organize his work according to a formulation of plastic controllable, ” says Charles Bourget, in the publication of the retrospective Order and freedom.

Present in the collections of the State museums, Belzile had the right of citizenship in recent historical exhibitions : The Artists (2005), at the Musée des beaux-arts de Sherbrooke, The question of abstraction (2012), at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and The Artists and the 1950s-1960s (2013), the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.

Louis Belzile has worked in the public service, the ministry of Education, until 1985. And in 2005, it is the painting he has brought to an end.

He said, “I had entrusted the sacred fire of creation had abandoned him,” says his daughter, Céline Belzile. He no longer knew how to move forward to new experiments and decided to just stop. My father always looked forward. “

A tribute to him will be made on march 2 during a ceremony at the funeral complex Yves Légaré LaSalle. To honor his memory, the family invites people to make a donation, whether at the Musée du Bas-Saint-Laurent, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.