1931 - 2000
"I came to non-figuration via the Jacques-Cartier Bridge" - Jean- Guy Mongeau
A member of the art avant-garde during the 1960s, Jean-Guy Mongeau made his mark on his times with his boldness and vitality, alongside the masters of the Montreal School. More than simply painting, Mongeau constructed his works. He fluidly superimposed and structured, with lines, cubic forms, and masses in a bottomless black illuminated by deep red, green, indigo, blue, and white. In this world of rich tones, order triumphs over chaos. (No. 180, 1961)
After earning a diploma in commercial art from the École des Beaux-Arts in 1957, Mongeau began a career in this trade but found it unsatisfying. He turned to painting in 1959 and very quickly gained recognition, winning awards from the Club des Beaux-Arts and the Salon de la Jeune Peinture in Montreal in 1960, and from the Winnipeg Show, in Winnipeg, in 1961 and 1962.
A visual-arts teacher by day (1961 to 1983), Mongeau devoted his nights to covering surfaces of masonite with a smooth layer of enamel, a medium that he used for most of his paintings and that obliged him to work quickly. The nocturnal ambience was a match for the painter?s mood, which swung between periods of boundless energy and long stretches of contemplation. A passionate painter, Mongeau was inspired by photography to articulate his work around research on form and chromatic values.
In 1972, Mongeau stopped painting, and he did not paint again for 12 years. Far from being idle, however, he continued his experimentation in photography. He also made murals and objects in ceramics, steel, tinplate, and wood, playing on complexity, simplicity, and humour. When he returned to painting, in 1983, his lines were more thought out ? sometimes attenuated and sometimes accentuated by tonal contrasts. Seeking new forms, the painter explored drawing. Now, the visual gesture was expressed in a palette of black and grey as he used lithographic pencils, etching needles, china ink, and charcoal. A prolific artist, Mongeau produced 500 paintings and 200 works on paper.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, 09 May 1931
Died Canada; Quebec, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, 30 June 2000
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