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Jean Paul Riopelle

Homage to Grey Owl


Jean Paul Riopelle
Montreal 1923 – L'Isle-aux-Grues, Quebec, 2002


Homage to Grey Owl




Oil on canvas


299.5 x 400 cm


Gift of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, inv. 2001.184


Quebec and Canadian Art

With the series of owls presented at Galerie Maeght in 1970, Riopelle returned once and for all to representational work. Although not recognizable as a motif in this piece, the owl is referred to in the title, where it alludes specifically to Grey Owl, or Archibald Stansfield Belaney, an English adventurer and writer who "went native" in the forests of Canada. Lavishly illustrated, Grey Owl's books, such as "Tales of an Empty Cabin", are adventure novels filled with trappers, Indians and wild animals. As a boy, Riopelle was an avid reader of Grey Owl and most likely identified with him - indeed they shared the same totem, the owl. And both were "trappers," particularly after André Breton described Riopelle as a "superior trapper" and other authors followed suit. This work, also entitled The Pond, may represent a scene from one of Grey Owl's books. The hieroglyphic shape in the lower part of the canvas suggests a log cabin under a tree, by a pond.

© Estate of Jean Paul Riopelle / SOCAN (2021)

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