Canadian grand master, the contemporary painter Léon Bellefleur was born in Montreal, Quebec on February 8, 1910 (deceased February 22, 2007). He graduated from the École normale Jacques Cartier in Montreal in 1929 and taught for 25 years at the elementary school of the Commission des Écoles catholiques de Montréal while attending classes at the Montreal School of Fine Arts from 1929 to 1938. The first exhibition of his works took place in 1946. He signed the manifesto Prisme d’Yeux in 1948 directed by Alfred Pellan. In 1951, he received the first prize in modern painting at the Salon du Printemps at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and in 1953 he joined the automatism movement. In 1977, he was the first recipient of the Borduas Prize. In 1985, he received the Louis-Philippe Hébert Prize from the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste and an honorary doctorate from Concordia University in 1987. In 1989, he became a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.
Not only does teaching not prevent him from painting, but he spends a lot of time rubbing shoulders with other artists, notably Alfred Pellan; he is interested in emerging trends and forges an artistic opinion. In addition, his daily contact with children – he is a primary school teacher – stimulates his creativity and will mark, in a subtle and irremediable way, his plastic language. Around 1947, he published “Advocacy for the Child” in the journal Atelier d’art graphiques. Quebec poetry also occupies an important place in the world of Bellefleur: those of Émile Nelligan, his friend Roland Giguère, Gaston Miron, Gilles Hénault, and Paul-Marie Lapointe, to name a few. He finds in poetry a sublimation of life, feelings, passions. All his being, and consequently all his work, will be nourished by these literary, poetic and intellectual meetings. Poetry acts on his creation, but this influence does not translate into plastic language as such. Rather, it acts on the artistic inspiration flowing from its inner world. After leaving school in 1954, Léon Bellefleur leaves for Paris. There he makes decisive encounters, including that of André Breton with whom he shares a passion for esotericism. After numerous stays, he returns indefinitely to Quebec in the late sixties.