Paul Fournier (b. 1939) explored his interest in art through many mediums in an effort to find the best ways to express his vivid, colourful visions. At a young age, he was invited by George Wallace to study printmaking under him at McMaster University in the 1960s. As an emerging artist, he spent much of his time in Hamilton, having one of his first shows at the Alan Gallery in 1961. Fournier quickly took off from there, showing at the Westdale Gallery and Art Gallery of Hamilton before moving beyond the city to show at galleries in Toronto, Ottawa and Washington, D.C.. He was quickly recognized for his sharp, expressive forms and fauvist-like colours and became one of the leading abstract artists in Canada, continuing to actively exhibit today.
Passing through many different styles throughout his career, Fournier painted works with recognizable landscapes and references to figurative objects such as sailboats and plants in the 1960s and early 1970s, moving into more abstracted, gestural works that still remained rooted in inspiration from the natural world. The late 1970s saw Fournier becoming more inspired by nature’s larger concepts, such as weather and light (ex. Supernal Passage 1978, Amaryllis 1978). Fournier then settled into isolating and simplifying forms, becoming more at home with colour and shape experimentation. In a review by Karen Wilkin for artmagazine in 1979, she states “Fournier continues to explore and extend the limits of his own imagery, his own handwriting, his own ability to use colour and paint. His new pictures are personal and expressive: lyrical, generous and decorative in the best, Matissean, sense of the word” (Sept/Oct 79, artmagazine 53).
Increasing inspired by the transcendental, Fournier was commissioned by Cineplex Odeon at Centre Mall in 1986 to create a painting related to the film industry. Fournier painted For Film Composer John Horner, whom he cited as a source of great motivation for him in his work, “I use music as a catalyst for invention. The envisioned images pass through my mind’s eye like a motion picture” (artist statement).
In the 1970s, Fournier became a member of the Klonaridis Group. Following in the tradition of the Painters Eleven, the group joined together to encourage and explore modernist expressions among peers. Mentored by Jack Bush in the groups early years, the members were inspired by the legacy of local Abstract Expressionists that came before them. The group continued to exhibit together well into the 1990s, including at the Moore Gallery in 1995, located at the time in Hess Village.
Keeping in touch with his Hamiltonian roots, Fournier continues to be represented by Westdale Gallery and is a part of numerous local collections. Wilkin wrote of his practice in a review, “Fournier’s passionate dialogue with both nature and the stuff of painting links even his most diverse works. No matter how potent the allusion, Fournier, as a highly intuitive artist with a profound belief in the expressive power of his materials, always makes us aware of the sensuality of paint, the excitement of the act of painting” (Canadian Art, Summer 1991). Fournier’s exceptional range of output over a 50-year career span has cemented him as a significant force in Canadian art.
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