Jean Paul Lemieux

Promenade c.1976,

Watercolour
4.5 x 7 in

Provenance: Waddington & Gorce, Toronto
Masters Gallery, Calgary
Private collection, Calgary

Crowds
Lemieux does not, of course, confine himself solely to painting solitary figures lost in a setting
that dwarfs them, figures that look like so many compatible castoffs forever incapable of constructing for themselves a suitable refuge in a hostile universe. A number of the artist's most striking works are, on the contrary, peopled by crowds. These crowds are moving at an accelerated pace towards some unknown destiny, bearing witness to the troubled quality, the absurd turmoil of urban life, for which, as we know, the painter is so unsuited by temperament. Many of the faces in these crowds are appropriately haggard, anxious, sometimes even belligerent. Yet in most of these works the gloom is relieved by the presence of a child's face whose innocent quality keeps a spark of hope alive even at the most pessimistic moments.

Lemieux's pictures of crowds are often cropped in an unusual manner, such that occasionally
figures are cut in half vertically by the edge of the painting. These elisions seem to proclaim the unrelenting solitude of each person amidst the larger mass of human beings, and they freeze the movements of the body into strange, almost conventionally religious poses. What we have here is the sudden suspension of life, a state of being, realized and captured by the painter's eye. These images, as we know, have not been taken directly from life, but have been constructed piece by piece in the painter's imagination. This in no way prevents their being rooted in reality, in that larger reality which extends beyond the instantaneous - a reality of archetypal dimensions.
Guy Robert, Lemieux 1978, Gage Publishing