A huge mural in tribute to Riopelle lights up


To kick off the celebrations for Jean Paul Riopelle’s 100th birthday, the City of Montreal and Tourisme Montreal inaugurated and illuminated a huge mural in his honor on Tuesday evening. The 60-meter high work, erected in the Milton-Parc district, was created by none other than Marc Séguin. It will now be illuminated every evening.

« Ensuring that Riopelle’s work and legacy are so accessible is a real gift to Montrealers, » said the Mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, enthusiastically during the inauguration. Dozens of people, including many well-known figures from Quebec’s artistic elite, gathered for the occasion, in front of the residential building where the mural was painted, at the corner of Milton and University streets near McGill University.

Entitled Magnetic Art, the imposing mural can be observed from the top of the Kondiaronk belvedere at the top of Mount Royal, just like the other large downtown mural, which represents Leonard Cohen, produced five years earlier.

It was the artist Marc Séguin who conceptualized the project, following a competition open to the public, organized by the City of Montreal. The large mural therefore represents a goose flying above a sphere, like « a moon, a planet, and a sun » all at once, the artist said. Geese have always been an outstanding symbol of Riopelle’s visual universe, he who painted many of them, until his death at Isle-aux-Grues.

« You can’t imagine what it can mean for an artist to pay homage to art with a work of art, » said Marc Séguin. Jean Paul Riopelle was one of his « idols » of youth, he said, visibly very moved. He even said he had fun letting the mural artists improvise a few elements in the center of the globe: “Was I going to repeat the model? This is not what Riopelle would have wanted”.

Tuesday evening, accompanied by the president and CEO of Tourisme Montréal, Yves Lalumière, and the philanthropist Michel de la Chenelière, Valérie Plante launched the illumination of the mural. Like the work representing Leonard Cohen on the building on Crescent Street, it will be haloed with a sparkling white light every evening.

Tribute to a “great builder”

The two projects are part of a series of murals in homage to “Montreal cultural builders”, created by the organization MU, which produces the works. The organization has therefore carried out other projects representing, for example, Oscar Peterson, Dany Laferrière, or Michel Tremblay. The magnetic art becomes their 200th Montreal mural.

« This location was chosen, very close to McGill University, not only for Riopelle’s link with the Quartier, but also because the wall faces Mount Royal and the work enters into dialogue with our project. about Cohen, » explains Julie Carlier, communications manager at Mu.

Jean Paul Riopelle grew up in the Plateau-Mont-Royal and studied at the former Montreal School of Fine Arts, located on rue Saint-Urbain, very close to the mural. Signatory of the Refus Global, leader of the Automatiste movement and a key figure in modernist Canadian abstract art, Jean Paul Riopelle is one of the most renowned Quebec artists internationally.

Many events are expected in Montreal this year for its 100th anniversary.

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