"I paint by instinct without philosophical or pictorial reasoning. It's a world I invent poetically and in exaltation." – Leon Bellefleur
Born: Montreal, February 8, 1910
Died: Montreal, February 22, 2007
Known for both his graphic work and for his painting, Bellefleur was inspired by the art of Paul Klee, by surrealism and its preoccupation with the subconscious, and by drawings of the children he schooled in Montreal.
Alongside Albert Dumouchel, Jacques de Tonnancour, and Louis Archambault, Bellefleur became a member of the Prisme d'Yeux led by Alfred Pellan, signing their manifesto in 1948 and exhibiting with the group.
Bellefleur retired from teaching in 1954 and travelled to Europe, setting up a studio in Paris in1958. There he associated with André Breton and the Surrealist. While there he studied printmaking techniques at the studios of Friedlander and of Desjaubert. He would spend the next ten years going back and forth between Europe and Quebec, finally settling down in Quebec in 1966 where he continued to paint into his 90s.
In 1951 Bellefleur was part of the second international COBRA exhibition at Liege, Belgium, and became a member of the AUTOMATISTE movement in 1953. In 1960 he represented Canada at the Guggenheim International Contest. The first winner of the Prix Borduas (1977), Bellefleur also received the 1985 annual prize of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste and an honourary PhD from Concordia University in 1987. In 1989 Bellefleur was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy.