Jori Smith born in 1907 and died in 2005, painter, watercolorist, draftsman and muralist, was a central figure in the Montreal art scene during the 1930s. A founding member of the Eastern Group and the Contemporary Art Society, Smith is best known for her portraits while living in the Charlevoix region of Quebec. With her penetrating and human eye, she seizes personality and humor in portraits remarkably devoid of sentimentality, which also strike by the spontaneity of their execution. Smith also made nudes, still lifes and landscapes.
Marjorie Smith was fifteen in 1922 when she enrolled at the Art Association of Montreal, where she attended the courses of Randolph Hewton. When the school closed three months later, she entered the École des Beaux-Arts, and won several awards over the next five years. She attended the National Monument simultaneously, and later studied with Edwin Holgate.
It was in 1930 that Smith and her husband, Jean Palardy, began their first excursion centered on painting in the Charlevoix region. Over the next ten years, they spend a long time in this region, where for two years they rent a house, lodging with various families; They will then buy their own summer home in Petite-Rivière-Saint-François. During two summers, they crossed the region with the ethnographer Marius Barbeau, helping him in his research on the culture of Charlevoix. Integrating with the rural community, Smith draws inspiration from the people she meets. At that time, his door was still open, both in Charlevoix and in Montreal, to many artists and intellectuals, including close friends such as Jean Paul Lemieux, Marian Scott and John Lyman, and Goodridge Roberts and Alfred Pellan.
In 1934, Smith began with Palardy the first of a long series of trips to Europe, traveling through France, Spain and England, where she began to take an interest in contemporary British artists. During these journeys abroad, she painted many landscapes with ink, watercolor and oil. In 1937, his first solo exhibition was held at the Picture Loan Society in Toronto; At this time, she already signed her works by the name of Jori Smith. Twenty years later, Smith ceased to expose as a result of her separation from her husband, Jean Palardy, and spent more and more time traveling. In 1976, she reappeared and continued to paint every day, even at the age of ninety.
Under the influence of Pellan, she began to use more vivid colors.
Smith won the Jessie Dow Award from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1955) and the Medal of the National Assembly of Quebec (2001). She was a member of the Order of Canada (2002).
Source: From biographical text by Jori Smith of the National Gallery of Canada
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