Léon Bellefleur

In 1948, Léon Bellefleur signed the Prisme d’Yeux manifesto, adding his voice to a group of Quebec artists led by painter Alfred Pellan. Published several months before Refus Global, the manifesto makes the case for an independent art open to highly diverse aesthetics, with freedom of expression taking precedence over radical doctrines. Bellefleur’s work was shown two years later in a joint exhibition with painter Fritz Brandtner at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, in which around 30 paintings revealed “the inspiration of a personalized surrealist tendency that translates the turbulent depths of dreams and the nocturnal imagination into spontaneous pulsating forms.” Freed from his work as a teacher in 1954, Bellefleur moved to France to dedicate himself fully to his art. Formal recognition came in 1968, when the National Gallery of Canada organized a retrospective that subsequently toured three museums. In 1977, Léon Bellefleur was the first recipient of the Prix Paul-Émile-Borduas.

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