Riopelle Sculptures Show - Media Release

October 10, 2010

Winnipeg Show the First in a Six-City, Cross-Canada Sequence of Gallery Exhibitions.


Winnipeg Show the First in a Six-City, Cross-Canada Sequence of Gallery Exhibitions

WINNIPEG – A two-week exhibition opening October 28 at Winnipeg’s Mayberry Fine Art gallery offers the first opportunity for Canadians to view and purchase rare sculptural masterpieces and charcoal drawings from the estate of famed Canadian artist Jean-Paul Riopelle.

Pieces from the body of work – selected by the artist’s daughter Yseult Riopelle and entitled Mémoires d’Ateliers or Studio Memories – were first unveiled at a gallery in Paris last week, while others will be on display in the weeks and months ahead at commercial galleries in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, Quebec City, and Vancouver.

Yseult Riopelle will be in Winnipeg for the show’s opening reception Thursday, Oct. 28, 6-9 p.m.

Riopelle (1923 -2002) is arguably Canada’s most internationally-celebrated, post-war abstract artist and one of the most collected artists in the history of Canadian art. Primarily identified with his distinctive paintings which have set record sale prices in the Canadian art world, the Montreal artist focused on sculpture from 1968 to 1972, although he was not motivated to cast all of his works in bronze while he was alive. (A mini-bio of the artist follows the release.)

Now, these long-archived sculptural gems have been cast in bronze presenting an unprecedented opportunity for collectors of this Canadian master.

Riopelle sculpted most of the 15 bronze works being shown in Winnipeg in 1969-1970. Some of the small- and medium-size sculptures (from 10” to 20” in height) are abstract pieces while others depict owls, a rooster, a wolf, and a wapiti. The show’s centerpiece is a seven-foot tall sculpture of an owl perched atop a sculpted pedestal.

Many of the sculptures are related to the pieces that comprise Riopelle’s sculptural installation known as “La Joute” – the fountain which graces Place Jean-Paul Riopelle in front of the Palais de Congrѐs in Montreal.

The large piece in the Mayberry exhibition is valued at $750,000, while the others range in price from $39,000 to $90,000.

The 10 charcoal drawings on paper, done in 1976 as the artist transitioned from pastels towards his iconic Iceberg series in oil, are priced at $27,000.  Most are approximately 20”x25” in size.

Riopelle, who referred to his paintings as “sculptures in oil”, also used a heavy relief technique in his sculpture.

“It’s very gestural in that the human touch is evident with highly visible thumb and finger impressions. Riopelle literally left his mark on every one of these sculptures,” gallery co-owner Shaun Mayberry said as he unpacked the boxes containing the Canadian art treasures.

“It is an honour for us as a gallery to show and sell the works of this Canadian artist who is so widely recognized on the international stage, to give Winnipeg art audiences the chance to see something so rare,” Mayberry added.

Mayberry Fine Art opened in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District in 2002. Located at 212 McDermot Avenue, the gallery represents a select group of contemporary Canadian artists such as Winnipeg’s Koop, Andrew Valko and Don Proch, Surrey’s Robert Genn, Saskatchewan’s Joe Fafard and Wilf Perreault, and Toronto’s Celia Neubauer, in addition to its significant activity in the historical art market.

The Mayberrys opened their semi-virtual, satellite gallery, featuring touchscreen technology, in Winnipeg Square in 2008 and just recently purchased the Hollander York Gallery in Toronto which is now operating as a division of Mayberry Fine Art. 

Images of Riopelle’s works for this exhibition can be viewed online at


The abstract expressionist painter and sculptor was born in Montreal in 1923.

In the 1940s, he became a founding member of a group of progressive Quebec artists and writers known as the Automatistes -- the most influential avant-garde arts movement in Canada.

Riopelle spent much of his working life in France where he became friends with some of the most influential artists of the 20th Century. His much-heralded works were exhibited in London and Paris. He returned to Canada in the 1970s.

In 1984, Riopelle spoke of having sculpted as a child – with snow – and revealed that he continued to do that whenever he got the chance. He was quoted as saying: The incredible improvisations you can make based on the traditional kids’ snowman have had a powerful effect on my bronze sculptures.

In the catalogue that Yseult Riopelle produced for the series of shows of her father’s work, she writes: My fingers fit themselves into the prints left by my father as a wave of jumbled memories washes over me.

In recalling watching her father work in the studio, she says: With the tips of his 10 fingers, lovingly, impetuously, he marks, pinches, fashions the malleable clay, whips and prods it with the point of a tool as if to tame its liveliness.

Riopelle’s works are found in some of the world’s most famous galleries and museums including the National Gallery in Ottawa and the Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Modern Art, both in New York City.

He died in 2002 at the age of 78.