Looking at a Joan Mitchell Painting

Following last week’s photo essay on people in museums, this week features Joan Mitchell’s paintings.

Joan Mitchell’s paintings exude a raw energy, intense, even furious at times that cohabits with a lyricism and subtlety that is not always visible at first glance. Beyond the mere interpretation of a landscape, we can see a vivid expression of the inside turmoil that often agitates us all, pouring forth in daring brushstrokes, both desperate and tender.

The dynamism of the above painting is striking, and as one friend reflected, in this instance, makes the viewer seem static.




In the above detail, we can see the forces at play in Mitchell’s work: gesture and paint matter used in a broad array of possibilities, impulsion and restraint, dark colors along with translucent ones, suggesting depth and evanescence together.


Mitchell uses the white canvas to offset her colors, either as seen through a transparent layer, or in between deeper tones.





It seems fit to conclude this short tribute with one major work that brings together these two major painters.

In November 1992, upon learning of Joan Mitchell’s death, Jean-Paul Riopelle was compelled to paint the “Hommage à Rosa Luxembourg”, a vast tryptic of 30 paintings, his tribute to Joan Mitchell.




This last major work is by Riopelle is located in the corridor that links the old part of the museum with the new pavillon Pierre Lalonde, where the exhibition took place.

This week’s photos are taken in front of Joan Mitchell’s paintings, part of an exhibition that took place last fall at the Musée national des Beaux-Arts du Québec.
This was the first ever exhibition to focus on the 25 years relationship between painters Jean-Paul Riopelle and Joan Mitchell, and how that relationship influenced their respective art.
Main photo: Woman in front of :Joan Mitchell, A Garden for Audrey, Oil on canvas, Dyptich, 1974, Estate of Joan Mitchell
Photo 2: Joan Mitchell, Untitled (detail), Oil on canvas, 1961, The Joan Mitchell Foundation, New York
Photo 3: Visitors looking at Jean-Paul Riopelle, “Hommage à Rosa Luxembourg” 1992. Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 155 x 1 424 cm (1st element); 155 x 1 247 cm (2nd element); 155 x 1 368 cm (3rd element), Coll. MNBAQ. Gift of the artist.
All photos: Louise Jalbert