Text written by G. Hamelin, vol.XXXVIII, Le Canada? 1940, entitled:
The 6th exhibition of Beaux-Arts Alumni, where a masterpiece can be seen, the work of Maurice Raymond (“Le 6e salon des anciens des Beaux-Arts, on y expose une pièce de maître, œuvre de M. Maurice Raymond”)
Yesterday was the opening of the 6th painting exhibition organized by the alumni of the École des Beaux-Arts, at the Galerie des Arts, on Sherbrooke Street West.
Though not all of the artists exhibited this year have much to show in terms of originality, the variety of subjects and modes of expression, and especially the rather high level of quality evidenced in the paintings on display make this exhibition worthy of praise.
Among these talented painters, Maurice Raymond is especially noteworthy as he gives us a glimpse at the possibility of a new orientation in Canadian painting, and we would not be surprised if his influence were a contributing factor in the eventual creation of a truly Canadian school of art, a school of young painters of typically local, or better yet native expression. Mr. Raymond’s talent harmonizes with the things that are familiar to us and are deeply rooted in our heritage. There is a balance, both restful and very powerful, between the frugal pleasures and the simple people of our land, our strong natural core, and the spirit and technique of this young painter. Mr. Raymond’s main painting, Québec, Poème de la terre (Quebec, Poetry of the Land), is a composition subject that all at once represents, in one passionate stroke of inspiration and in one piece, even with a similar rhythm, a synthesis of the life and work of our country folk. If I may be so bold as to draw a parallel between literature and painting, I would say that this is the Maria Chapdelaine of Canadian painting, yet broader in scope and also treated in a more peaceful manner. Its rhythm is broad and slow, like the rhythm of the reaper, the rhythm of furrows, of an elongated trot along a gently winding country road, of a hay wagon wobbling with its load, and that gesture of a woman putting bread in the oven, and the gesture of that other woman holding a pitcher and handing out a mug of water. Nothing excessive in all of this: not the shades of the colors, nor the movement of characters and lines. It strikes a perfect balance in its details and as a whole, with well observed lines, sober sketching, in a word a poem that sings the life of our country folk, our “habitants”, with serenity, strength and harmony.
Mr. Maurice Raymond also has two other paintings that denote a vigorous, personal talent: a delicious Nature morte (Still Life) and a Coin d’atelier (Workshop Corner) of unusual composition. Mr. Raymond has the merit of having shown what can be done with composition subjects, for true originality, though it may show on the level of technique, is perhaps even more evident in the choice of subject and how it is arranged, laid out and positioned on the painting. Mr. Raymond will get all the encouragement he deserves, and he deserves a great deal.
Although different from Mr. Raymond’s, Mr. René Chicoine’s artwork, in our opinion, is also focused on a rather particular mode of expression. No doubt he tackles several rather distinct subjects, but the symbolism of his works give them a quality of unity. He does portraits that are not merely portraits, and landscapes or studies of houses that are not merely simple, objective studies.
The Gâcheur de plâtre (The Plaster Worker), from my perspective, symbolizes the plasterer’s trade, and Chez le médecin (At the Doctor’s), a portrait of a sick child, represents children who suffer, children who live in poverty and misery. The study of old houses in Paris, entitled Le 14 juillet (July 14th), truly evokes a day of celebration with its flags waving in the wind and its sunlight effects on the houses and clouds: the whole sky is festive. Also by the same artist, the Portrait of a young widow is very well done, and so is Intérieur.
Mr. Armand Filion, the president of this exhibition, has some very lively charcoal drawings on display, with supple, precise, vigorous lines. He knows how to convey an expression with utmost intensity; even with charcoal, the sculptor’s touch is so much a part of him that he carves the features of his characters. He does a wonderful job of balancing light and shadow, and his portraits stand out like molded figures.
Mr. Jean-Charles Faucher, who specializes in studies of houses, has artistically and faithfully painted a Montreal street corner on a rainy day. This painting is entitled Effet de pluie (Rain Effect). The atmosphere is gray and humid, and the luminous reflections are truly liquid. Houses, trees and utility poles are reflected as distorted mirages on the wet pavement.
Ms. Micheline Forgues has done two children’s portraits Orval and Erna, each showing a truly remarkable freshness of expression and execution. A quiet little girl who wants to act grown up, and a daydreaming and somewhat bedraggled little boy, much like most small children. Those two paintings show great promise in terms of Ms. Forgues’ talent. She is able to confine herself to simple, charming subjects, and render them perfectly.
Cartoonists (good ones) are rather rare among us. Mr. Jean Simard, who revels in this type of drawing, has come through with high class material that deserves mention. Vie conjugale, Le bel amour, and Funérailles are three small masterpieces of humor showing a steady hand and acute observation. Mr. Simard has a highly developed sense of ridicule, and even though this genre does not easily lend itself to being classified among the masterpieces of pure art, one cannot help but admire a personality that dares to express itself in a medium of its own choosing, with such beautiful results.
Mr. Stanley Cosgrove also has some very interesting stuff, but one gets the impression that his personality is overshadowed by the constraints of formula. The originality of his work is experienced as overstudied, overdrawn, degenerating almost to the point of eccentricity. One needs to take care that one’s desire to astonish does not overshadow one’s concern for authenticity and proper execution. However, Mr. Cosgrove certainly is gifted with a great deal of talent and great subtlety of observation, as evidenced in his still life paintings and his Paysage aux environs de Saint-Urbain.
We should also mention Ms. Irène Sénécal, whose still life paintings show great color freshness as well as feminine grace. Ms. Guillemette de Lorimier, whose Train de Neige (Snow Train) has rhythm and color. her snow is somewhat harsh in tone, yet it is very good for a first attempt.
Both Ms. Juliette Côté and Ms. Cécile Crépeau have done some interesting and fairly lifelike portraits.
Brother Gédéon of the Frères des Écoles Chrétiennes (Brothers of Christian Schools) has a very calm and restful Vieille maison (Old House). It is surrounded with tall trees, showing meticulous execution and a high level of mastery.
Ms. Elizabeth Maxwell and Ms. Suzanne Morin are also talented painters.