Jean Paul Riopelle

Untitled, 1970

Oil on panel
11.75 x 6.75 in

Catalogue Raisonne #1970.015H

Provenance :
From the artist’s estate by descent to Yseult Riopelle.
Private collection, Toronto.

Illustrated: Jean Paul Riopelle, Catalogue Raisonne, vol. 4,
1966-1971, page 226.

In contrast to his well-known monumental works of previous years, Untitled, 1970 is executed in a significantly more intimate format.
The scrawls and pathless interplay of Riopelle’s pigments are present in this lovely small oil, though they exude a sense of spontaneity, are remarkably deliberate. Riopelle controlled his application of paint and colour to a considerable degree. Here, the licks of black, blue, white, and red are thickly applied and faceted using calculated cleaves of the artist’s palette knife. The result of his gestures on the heavy oils is that these thick, interlocked skeins appear almost sculptural. The animation of Riopelle’s movements is neutral and prevents any one plane from dominating the other. The artist’s colours flush and fade into one another, with a deliberately unclear hierarchy. Is the shock of blue at left interrupting its black and red counterparts, or do these two colours sit on top of it, threatening to invade and engulf the blue entirely?
In these diminutive works by Riopelle, we are able to enjoy the subtleties of his artistic practice - his nuanced gestures, the changing densities and colour variations of his paints and the splendid way in which all these aspects unite in the final work.

With the approach of what would be Riopelle’s 100th birthday in 2023, the Vancouver philanthropist Michael Audain O.C., O.B.C., has announced the newly established Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation. A recent press release from the foundation explained that they are dedicated to advancing the “rediscovery of Riopelle’s legacy as an iconic visionary, a symbol of freedom, creativity and experimentation” [1].

Audain stated that in celebration of the artist's centenary, “special nationwide exhibitions will mark the occasion” [2]. In the years leading up to these centennial celebrations, the press release announced “an ambitious series of national and international initiatives to be deployed over the next four years, culminating with a centenary celebration in 2023” [3].

These forthcoming ‘ambitious initiatives’ will undoubtedly bring with them strong demand to the already red-hot Riopelle market. In advance of what is sure to be growing enthusiasm to own one of his works, the gem, Untitled 1970, presents to collectors a unique opportunity to purchase a quintessential work by Riopelle at an attractive value.

1. Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation, News Release: VISUAL ARTS: CREATION OF THE JEAN PAUL RIOPELLE FOUNDATION, 3 October 2019, Accessed 19 October 2019
2. Janet Smith, “Michael Audain's new foundation to celebrate Quebec artist Jean-Paul Riopelle works toward 2023 centenary”, The Georgia Straight (Vancouver, BC), 8 October 2019. Accessed 19 October 2019.
3. Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation, News Release, 2019