PAUL-VANIER BEAULIEU (1910 - 1996)
Two portraits, 1954
Galerie Cosner au Ritz-Carlton Montréal
Oil on canvas
55,9 cm x 66 cm / 22" x 26"
Signed and dated lower left
"In 1940, an event upsets the career of the artist; being Canadian and a subject of the British crown, Beaulieu is detained in a civilian prison by the Germans who have recently invaded France. Interned in Fresnes, then in Saint-Denis, Beaulieu remains close to four years inside these prisons with several other compatriots. With the company of the painter Jean-Philippe Dallaire and the architect Édouard Fiset, the artists regularly engaged in drawing and painting, when it was possible to obtain the necessary equipment. Limited by the subjects to be treated, Beaulieu makes several portraits of his companions of misfortune. The colors that dominate the works from this period are rather neutral and reflect a state of mind of resignation2. At that time, crowd entertainers, clowns and acrobats appeared. These will evolve with the artistic research of the painter; first represent with a concern for perspective in the 1940s, later, these characters take place in a geometric and frontal atmosphere.
During the 1950s, the artist became more interested in figuration and human representations. The marginal characters who emerged during the period of his internment resurface in his works. A recurring character characterizes his compositions. Depicted in portrait, like Two portraits, or with a bird, Beaulieu affirms that it was inspired by Philippe Clay for this figure3. The French singer with expressive and bony facies who moved on stage with flexibility had greatly influenced the painter. At the rhythm of the music, he waved his hands so as to draw attention to them during these performances. For the artist, this threadlike character is the starting point for a considerable number of compositions. The latter intervenes in different situations, which allows Paul Vanier.
Beaulieu to make variations on the same theme, to assert his inventiveness and to make his character travel through an imaginary that he has shaped with the passage of time."
Sales and acquisition counsellor at the Cosner Gallery in Canadian Art, she is completing her Master's degree in Art History at the Université de Montréal.
2. Beaulieu, Michel et Jacques, Brault (1981). P.V. Beaulieu, collection : Signatures, La Prairie : Michel Broquet, p. 13.
3. Lefebvre, Germain (2009). Paul Vanier Beaulieu Retrospective, Exhibition catalogue, Galerie Walter Klinkhoff Inc., [Online] : http://www.klinkhoffart.com/beaulieu-paul-vanier, page constulted 09/09/2018.