Among the recurring motifs in Lemieux's work, and the one that profoundly characterizes his greatest contribution to Canadian art and adds lustre to his reputation, is that of the single figure in a landscape. Lemieux at his most serious poses difficult existential questions about the individual's place in society, and mankind's place in the universe. Lemieux doesn't offer us any answers to these perennial quandaries, but he knows how to pose the dilemma in a moving and sympathetic way.
Because of the title, L'Emigré (The Emigrant), we know that Lemieux is asking us to consider someone who is twice removed: not just an individual who is looking for the meaning of his place in the universe, but someone who is also trying to find a place in a community. The sense of isolation, separation, and loneliness is made much more acute by knowing that for this man there may not be the comforting friends, church, society, or even family that are normally supports which most people are able to rely upon.
Although Lemieux has used a sort of formula here that has served him in many other similar paintings, he still manages to make it appear fresh and compelling. The figure is placed foremost and to one side, and almost seems to be stepping out of the picture and into the viewer's space. His proximity is almost tangible. Behind, the winter landscape (is it a river, a field, a park?) stretches back almost to infinity. Above, the grey sky, without character, adds even more to the sense of the vast space in which the man is standing. He is physically isolated and therefore psychologically isolated too.
A black and white photocertificate signed by the artist, titled, and dating the painting to 1965 can be made available to the purchaser of this lot.
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