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Antoine Prevost

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b. 1930
Born in Quebec City, he attended the College des Jesuites where he received his education and strict training which still holds its influence on him today. Raised in a family keenly aware of the history of Quebec and of the arts, he was encouraged to express himself through writing and painting from childhood.
Antoine wanted to be a painter but growing up during a period when parents looked for practical careers for their children, he was discouraged from being an artist full time. To compromise the wishes of his parents and his own needs he went into business for himself as an antique dealer where he could be practical while still being close to art, history and books. Later he became involved with historical reconstructions that led to his creation of the Chambly Historical Village, which in turn led to his appointment as Executive Director of the Corporation of Urbanists of Quebec. He then moved to a similar post with the Town Planning Institute of Canada in Toronto.
He had during this period done some 'Sunday painting' and wanted to try it full time. In 1971 he returned to Quebec to paint with his wife and children to the village of Cacouna on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River not far from the town of Riviere-du-Loup. By 1977 Prevost had emerged as an important artist.
Jacques Breton, writing in the Montreal Star, noted him as follows, "Antoine Prevost . . . after four successful one-man exhibitions and five years since first appearing on the art scene, is now attracting the kind of critical and popular attention needed to transform an artist's solitary statements into meaningful communications. Solitude is an important theme to Quebec writers and poets and Prevost is no exception. His paintings express this in a gripping manner. The lonely figures aimlessly wandering through infinite snow deserts, the bishops and their clergy solemnly progressing toward unreachable churches, the flowing brides lost in winter roads, all of these cry out their loneliness, their solitude. If they become so effectively, so convincingly present despite the dream-world in which the painter presents them, it is because of the way in which they are painted. Prevost has chosen watercolour as his medium, what is so unusual about his painting is his approach to watercolour. His pictures, every single anonymous figure in them, are painted with an infinity of minute strokes that the artist uses to depict in an almost 'realistic' manner, texture, volume, colour and shading. The effect thus achieved is one of almost 'magic realism,' the illusion that the figures can be touched. In contrast to the vast expanses of snow-white landscapes animated by the merest suggestions of time and place, in which they evolve, the figures become 'surreal' in their reality. Thus understood Prevost's message comes across loud and clear; the folk-like world he depicts, the historical past to which he constantly refers, the 'Quebecois' memories in which he and most of those of his generation were steeped, all of this, Prevost tells us, was a dream, a reality distorted into a dream. That dream could be very tender, very touching, or alarming, a nightmare, serene, peaceful or devastating, but a dream from which 'real' reality not 'magic' reality must be distilled so that the trance may be broken. In that lies Prevost's originality his meaningfulness as a painter of today."
By 1980 Prevost had moved to Quebec City and into a house that had been closely connected in the 1800's with members of his own family. He discovered portraits of the original owners of the house, which heightened his sensitivity to the historical past of his own kin. Cyrice Tetu and Julie Caroline Dionne, the original occupants, were the subject of a series of Prevost's paintings based on events of their lives.
In an exhibition folder, the Galerie Dresdnere describes as follows: "So let us follow him through the corridors of time to meet first Cyrice Tetu and Julie Caroline Dionne, the couple whose lives provide the theme for this cycle of works. Beginning with their humble origins in the early 19th Century, theirs is a saga that contains all the elements of a morality play: the rise to power with the unpleasant by-products engendered by it, and finally - the hand of retribution precipitating the Fall. Cyrice Tetu was born on the rugged north shore of the St. Lawrence. During his days of power he never forgot that he was a self-made man and sensing perhaps the ephemeral nature of success, he built his baronial abode like a signet for posterity. He died an exile at La Prairie du Cheval Blanc in Manitoba about 1870. During his lifetime he witnessed the 1837 uprisings, the waves of Irish immigrations, Confederation and the Riel rebellion. He travelled extensively on the Continent, married his children into aristocracy - and died a pauper leaving his widow destitute!"

Exhibitions and Shows:
Galerie Morency, Mtl. (1972,73)
Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Mtl. (1974,76, 78)
Galerie Dresdnere (1980).

He has published a number of serigraphs including the illustrations for Claude Jutra's Mon Oncle Antoine.

-Colin S. Macdonald, Dictionary of Canadian Artists

Other Information

Category: Watercolors


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