Painter, illustrator, and professor, Jean Dallaire is a brilliant Québécois artist who is known primarily for his “festive paintings where the real and the imaginary intertwine in a universe of form and colour.” (Translation ours) (Michel Cheff Vincent)
Born in Hull, Québec, Dallaire began drawing at the age of 11. He attended the École technique de Hull, and studied drawing at the Central Technical School in Toronto, but was primarily self-taught. In 1938, after spending six months at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal, he received a grant from the Québec government to complete his studies in Paris. His stay in the City of Lights deeply stimulated him, but he resisted aligning himself with any specific artistic movement, preferring instead to draw inspiration from the diversity of influences he encountered in the local art scene.
During the German occupation of 1940 to 1944, Dallaire was held at the internment camp in Saint-Denis, a suburb of Paris, where he managed to continue making art. He finally returned to Canada in 1945, and taught drawing and painting at the École des beaux-arts de Québec, before working as an illustrator for the National Film Board of Canada. In 1957, he was included in the Biennale of Canadian Art organized by the National Gallery of Canada. He relocated to France the following year and settled in Vence, where he continued to paint until his death in 1965.
A first retrospective of his work was presented in 1968 at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. In 1999, the latter would present Dallaire, a large-scale retrospective on his work, accompanied by an extensive catalogue. Afterward, in 2005 and 2008, the City of Gatineau organized the travelling exhibition Dallaire, Illustrateurs, Extraits des series historiques. And finally, in 2016, Hommage à Dallaire : Que la fête commence ! was presented at the Galerie Montcalm at Gatineau’s Musée du Citoyen, to mark the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth.