Jean Paul Lemieux’s winter scenes have sparked the Canadian imagination with their picturesque depictions of infinite, majestic spaces. Smaller in scale, but with no less mystery and verve, these more intimate scenes play out brilliantly within their tighter, expressive frames. Bundled up in pretty, slim-fitting coats, wool hats, and knitted red mittens, two skaters appear against a snowy landscape concealed beneath a fresh, heavy snowfall. Behind them, the horizon’s slight curve seems to tip toward another world, where the story and the painter’s vision meet.
This oil painting, created during the latter half of the 1970s, is comparable to other works, such as Le temps d’hiver (1968) or Personnages dans la nuit (undated), in its classic composition, with the two iconic figures—one front-facing, the other in profile—and the distant mountain range folding into a limitless horizon. The tinted greys and whites, particularly realistic in this piece, seem to make the silhouettes appear and disappear—now close-up, now far away—under a veiled sun’s impassive gaze. Here, Lemieux aims at a lighthearted expression of the joys of skating, personified in the figure at right, who extends his hand toward his unsteady companion, and in the group of skaters off in the distance. The influence of Norwegian painters like Edvard Munch and Harald Sohlberg is prominent in Lemieux’s work, particularly in this typical winter scene. (A. L.)