By Sébastien Hudon
For an exhibition by artist Guillaume Adjutor-Provost titled Belles eaux,1 I was invited to show and introduce three rare works (facsimiles) from an exceptional grouping that I had just discovered. Acquired at an auction held in France in October 2020, the grouping is composed of gelatin-bromide monotype photomontages on paper laminated onto mount board. Signed and dated between 1946 and 1948, these remarkable works hadn’t been seen in Montreal for more than seventy years. Their creator remains, to this day, almost unknown to historians. His name: Évariste Desparois.
The fact is, little about Desparois and his works has survived to the present day. Aside from a short article by professor and collector Gilles Rioux (1942–95), published in a special issue of Vie des arts devoted to surrealism in fall 1975, and a few photographs conserved at the Musée national des beaux-arts de Québec, barely anything about him can be found in the literature or in institutions. I recently learned that he was born in Montreal on May 18, 1920,2 and that he studied at Collège Mont-Saint-Louis from 1935 to 1939. But his personal story remains elusive, and currently it is only through the photographs that he disseminated and newspaper accounts of his public appearances that we have access to the period during which he was most active, from 1945 to 1975.
From November 1945 to April 1946, according to newspapers and other publications of the time, Desparois (sometimes spelled “Des Parois”) was seeking out artists (painters, musicians, stage and radio performers) for a photography exhibition, which did not take place until 1948.3 As a contributor to Le PasseTemps, a Montreal cultural periodical, he published portraits of emerging and established figures. The photographs of painters Suzanne Duquette, André Jasmin, and Alfred Pellan4 were in a more personal style, standing out from his production during this period for their radical composition…
Translated by Käthe Roth
See the magazine for the complete article and more images: Ciel variable 117 – SHIFTED