Canadian Grand master, painter, professor, teacher, pedagogue, Brother Jérôme was born in 1902 in Charlesbourg (death in 1994). He studied from 1936 to 1938 at the School of Fine Arts in Montreal. A leading figure of abstract art in Quebec by the originality of his artistic work and forward thinking.
“Under his real name, Joseph Ulric-Aimé Paradis enters community in the Congregation of Sainte-Croix very early in his life. He became brother Jérôme in 1918. Leading painter of our modernity, he certainly was. But he was much more. Outstanding communicator, this teacher offers workshops that were a phenomenal success.
Associated with pictorial modernity and the new ideas it generated, a fervent defender, he is for all claims of the 1940s, which is pretty amazing, you will agree, for a clergyman. At the time, the wind of aesthetic and ideological reforms blow very strong in the minds often heated. Camps stand: Prism Eyes, Refus Global … Brother Jerome finds in these claims a great motivation and he is nice to everyone, at the same time close to Borduas and to Pellan. His teaching is in many ways revolutionary, as in his painting, the freedom and the pursuit of self, its inner dark side, remain fundamental leitmotifs of his expression. For him, the automation is the front door. ” Robert Bernier
Quebec artist, works of Brother Jerome are part of many public and private collections in Quebec and Canada.
Brother Jérôme’s contribution to the adventure of modern art in Quebec is often underestimated. There is nothing trivial about his career. Religious, painter and teacher, he met Paul-Émile Borduas in the 1940s, while he taught drawing and painting at Notre-Dame college. Brother Jérôme finds in Borduas’ thought an inexhaustible source of inspiration and motivation that will guide his action until the end of his life. If one considers his religious status and the social context of the time, his relationship with Borduas and the inspiration he derives from it seem unusual. His ideas and teaching methods are far from the conventions generally accepted in an institution like the one where he teaches. What is more, his position on the manifesto of the Global Refusal, which, let us not forget, is an unequivocal charge against ecclesiastical power, appears to be the most controversial testimony. However, despite his many differences of opinion with the members of his religious community — if he was sometimes marginalized within, he was never forbidden to express his ideas — and his fragile health which imposes on him periods of forced rest, Brother Jérôme pursues his artistic and educational activities with the same determination.
Brother Jérôme makes no distinction between his artistic production and his teaching. For him, it is an inseparable whole, art being first of all a state of mind, a way of living. The goal of the workshops he led until 1967, at Notre-Dame College, then in the Côte-des-Neiges district, was not to train artists. Brother Jérôme was interested in the development of the individual through creativity, a fundamental nuance which places his conception of art beyond the dogmas and conventions of society and the artistic milieu. Thus, this rather frail and nevertheless go-getter man will always be a rebel, contesting everything that hinders his artistic convictions. A black sheep of his community and of the official artistic milieu, he will touch through his workshops several thousand people who will find in him an open-mindedness, like no other.
Attempting to pierce the subconscious and to penetrate the deep individuality of each being was the basis of the global approach of this man animated by a powerful intuition and by a surrealist spirit with social reach. In a way, the action of Brother Jérôme joins that of Fritz Brandtner and Marian Scott, both very active in the 1940s, in setting up art workshops for children from underprivileged neighborhoods. Of course, Brother Jérôme did not meddle like them in political matters, but his action contributed to a certain revolution of the mind and to a real democratization of art. This extraordinary painter died in 1994 at the age of ninety-two.
Source : Robert Bernier, La peinture au Québec depuis les années 1960, Les Éditions de l’Homme, 2002, Frère Jérôme Frère Jérôme (1902-1994), pages 16-17.