Lea Riviere: Of Horses and Dreams

Lea Riviere
Lea Riviere in her Montreal studio.

Léa Rivière is an extraordinary painter. When I had my studio in Montreal’s St-Henri district, Léa occupied the studio directly below mine. We became good friends almost immediately, sharing stories and philosophical views over late-night dinners. We rarely talked about our work specifically, our conversations tended to focus mostly on the business of art. It’s been said that when bankers get together they talk about art, and when artists get together they talk about money. That’s mostly true, perhaps, but Léa and I can talk about anything.

I remember meeting Léa for the first time. A native of France, she possesses a certain charm that’s common among French women. Even when she’s in her work clothes, Léa always maintains an indescribable elegance, as if she could simply put down her paintbrush and step out for a night on the town.

Our studios weren’t exactly soundproof and we could often hear each other work. I knew when she was deep into creation when I’d hear the faint music of Enya rising up through the floorboards. Or sometimes when she was wearing headphones, I’d hear her singing softly. There is nothing in this world like being in the vicinity of intense creativity. The air almost crackles, yet at the same time there’s a certain sense of peace…….

Léa guards her privacy carefully. Her studio is her sanctuary for creation and the only people allowed into her sacred space are her closest friends and certain business acquaintances. Photos are discouraged. To be invited into Léa’s realm is an honor and a privilege. And the effect is always one of jaw-dropping awe.

I couldn’t wait to see Léa’s work again and I was thrilled we’d be spending several days together on my trip to Montreal. Walking into Léa’s studio, I was immediately transported into another world – a world of Horses and of Dreams.

L'arche de L'imaginaire - Lea Riviere
“L’arche de l’imaginaire” by Lea Riviere. Copyright image. All rights reserved.

Immense paintings – some as large as 4 feet high by 7 feet wide – lined the walls, drawing me into their story. Most times, the dreamer is a young woman…….

Calliope - Lea Riviere
“Calliope” by Lea Riviere. Copyright image. All rights reserved.

Occasionally, a child…….

Les Deferlantes - Lea Riviere
“Les Deferlantes” by Lea Riviere. Copyright image. All rights reserved.

Sometimes, the innocence of a baby reveals the gentleness behind the horse’s intense power…….

Le fondement du mythe - Lea Riviere
“Le fondement du mythe” by Lea Riviere. Copyright image. All rights reserved.

And then there are the horses themselves – with their unbridled energy, galloping from their world directly into ours…….

L'hymne a la joie - Lea Riviere
“L’hymne a la joie” by Lea Riviere. Copyright image. All rights reserved.
Shubert - Lea Riviere
“Shubert” by Lea Riviere. Copyright image. All rights reserved.
Satie - Lea Riviere
“Satie” by Lea Riviere. Copyright image. All rights reserved.

If you are fortunate enough to experience her paintings in person, you’ll appreciate the layers upon layers of paint that give these works of art such depth and intensity. Looking closely, you may also discover a certain icon that is present in much of her work. Consider the bottom left-hand corner of the painting below.

Vivaldi - Lea Riviere
“Vivaldi” by Lea Riviere. Copyright image. All rights reserved.

The bones of a fish…an ancient connection to our past…….

Fishbone - Lea Riviere

Nothing is arbitrary in Léa Rivière’s world. Every brushstroke has a purpose.

Imagine holding a conversation in the presence of such artwork!

We have only a couple of days to get re-acquainted after my five-year absence, and of course we also have plans to see other artwork…..a special exhibition of paintings by Otto Dix at the Montreal Museum of Art, which will be the polar opposite of Rivière’s work. We are up to the challenge.

But for now, we will talk long into the night……..


For more images and Léa Rivière’s exhibition schedule, visit: www.leariviere.com

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