Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mitchell and Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation

Jean-Paul Riopelle, La Forét Ardent, 1955

Just before it closed, on January 7, I had a chance to visit an excellent exhibition at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec (otherwise known as the MNBAQ.) You can read about the exhibit here.

Joan Mitchell, Untitled, 1961

The good news is that the show, titled "Nothing in Moderation", will now travel to the Art Gallery of Ontario, and is scheduled to open February 17.

What makes the show so interesting is the juxtaposition of work by the two artists. Both could be called Abstract Expressionists. Both often worked on a large scale. Both experimented with media and technique. And because they were involved in a personal relationship over a long period of time, both shared similar influences and similar themes, and inspired each other.

Jean-Paul Riopelle, Saint-Anthon, 1954

Generally speaking, Jean-Paul Riopelle preferred an impasto technique, slapping on great quantities of oil paint, modelling it with a palette knife.  His work has been compared to mosaic and stained glass. The patterning of his paint strokes were characteristically crystalline, and his palette was bold, favouring black, white and the primaries. Joan Mitchell's paint strokes were more lyrical, curving and spritely, made with thinned paint. Her palette was softer, her range of colour wider.

Joan Mitchell, La Fontaine, 1957

It could be said that each of their palettes was influenced by their favoured landscapes. In later years, after their romantic relationship ended, Riopelle returned to the Laurentians, and its rustic, vigorous landscape was reflected in his bold colour choices and the coarse, raw nature of his palette knife application.

Mitchell's later years were spent in the pastoral town of Vétheuil, just west of Paris and on the Seine. She was influenced by the tamer nature of her surroundings; her garden and its trees were important to her.

Joan Mitchell, Girolata, 1964
Jean-Paul Riopelle, Large Triptych, 1964

The show includes biographical timelines for both artists, and films and photos of them as individuals and as a couple. An excellent exhibition, well worth seeing.

1 comment:

Margaret said...

While Riopelle's 'St. Anthon' intrigues me, I admit to being most drawn by the work of Joan Mitchell. Wish I could see it "up close and personal"!