René Derouin

1634-35 The first Derouin, Robert Drouin (sic), arrives around 1635 and settles in Château Richer on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, opposite Île d’Orléans.

1936 On April 28, René Derouin is born into a working-class family in Montréal. His father Conrad Derouin and mother Laurette Desautels would have seven children in all: four boys and three girls. They live on Saint-Juste Street in Longue-Pointe, in the east end of Montréal.

1950 In April, his brother Robert drowns in the St. Lawrence.

1953 In October, his father drowns in the St. Lawrence.

1952-53 Studies commercial art and graphic design for two years at Studio Salette in Montréal.

1953-54 Works as a graphic artist and designs posters printed by silk-screen.

1950s His sister Aline enters the Dominican Order of nuns. He meets Benoît Lacroix, a Dominican priest who knows a great many artists and encourages him to read.

1953 Visits Val-David and the Laurentians for the first time. Works in the graphic arts department of Radio-Canada television.

1954-55 Takes night classes at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal. Studies life drawing with Florian Constantineau and Suzanne Duquette. Benoît Lacroix convinces Derouin’s mother to let her son leave for Mexico.

1955-56 Crosses the United States en route to Mexico with a friend, Claude Sarrazin. Is surprised by the U.S. cultural difference: predominance of English, large museums, racial segregation in the South, and new music, both jazz and rock and roll. Lives in Mexico from September to March. Impressed by the huge contrast: a society that is poor from a material standpoint but rich in cultural life and ideas. Lives in the Cuauhtémoc neighbourhood of Mexico City, at 17 Rio Amoy, in the home of Isabel Carbajal Bolandi, who runs a boarding house. Discovers international politics, the Russian and Mexican revolutions, Mexican art and culture, and pre-Columbian history and art. Visits numerous pre-Columbian sites and feels a deep-seated bond with pre-colonial civilizations. Studies and sketches the carvings and bas-reliefs at pre-Columbian sites. Takes classes at the University of Mexico School of Fine Arts; studies Spanish and drawing.

Returns to Québec via the West Coast, gaining his first insight into the cultural and geographic differences between Canada’s regions, the British-influenced society of British Columbia and the vast open spaces of the Prairies.

1957 Returns to Mexico for six months, from January to August. Lives with a Mexican family in an industrial district, and finds himself fully immersed in Mexican culture. Discovers that art forms an integral part of Mexican society and that artists have an intellectual presence beyond aesthetics. Isabelle Carbajal Bolandi introduces Derouin to Pablo O’Higgins and the Escuela de Pintura y Escultura Esmeralda. He studies painting with I. Nieves, drawing with A. Ayala and mural painting for two months with Pablo O’Higgins at the Esmeralda. This school of fine arts was founded by Antonio M. Ruíz in 1942 to promote Mexican culture and art, rather than foreign models. Poor students were admitted tuition-free. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo taught there in the very early days.

Studies printmaking while visiting studios, including the Taller de Gráfica Popular, founded by Pablo O’Higgins and Leopoldo Mendéz. Does his first linocuts in Mexico, inspired by the social message inherent in contemporary Mexican art. Concentrates on the silhouette in the works he produces there. Creates about ten linocuts in small editions, some of them used as Christmas cards.

1957-62    Montréal. Works intermittently as a freelancer for the graphic arts department of Radio-Canada television, where he makes several animated films. Produces series of illustrations for various programs¾demanding work that calls for a great deal of discipline. Develops new concepts for background murals and wins an award for an animated film.

1959 Marries Denise Gagné, with whom he would have three children: Vincent (1959-1994), Isabelle (1960) and Benoît (1961).

November: First solo exhibition of gouaches at Galerie Agnès Lefort in Montréal. Since then, Derouin has had more than a hundred solo shows and over 250 group exhibitions.

1960 Lives, with his family, in L’Anse de Vaudreuil, in the house where Félix Leclerc lived in the 1950s.

1960-65 Works in his studio in L’Anse de Vaudreuil, producing painting akin to lyrical abstract expressionism. These works were later destroyed.

1962 Receives his first Canada Council grant.

Exhibits large paintings, some as much as 3.6 m wide, in his Vaudreuil studio.

Produces his first artist’s book, Michouette, drawings and watercolours. One copy only.

1963 Works part-time for the National Film Board; makes an animated film which remained unfinished.

Attends an etching class with Albert Dumouchel at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal.

1964 Separates from his wife.

1964-65 Produces his first large series of black-and-white linocuts, titled Toutbête.

Makes his second artist’s book, at Montréal’s Institut des arts graphiques: Toutbête, ten linocuts in a binding by Pierre Ouvrard.

1965 Produces Terre de roches, a series of monotypes, in the house he has rented on Montée Gagnon in Val-David.

1966 Begins a relationship with Jeanne Molleur. They marry in 1975; their daughter Julie is born on June 19, 1970.

1966-68 Produces linocuts, colour woodcuts, lithographs, etchings and numerous monotypes. Tries out etching and lithography at Atelier 848 (which became Graff in 1966-67) run by Pierre Ayot, but does not make many because of a dislike for the toxic products used. Produces a woodcut for the album Pilulorum published by Atelier libre.

1966-69 Rents an eighteenth-century house that would become his studio in Varennes on the St. Lawrence River.

1967 First significant output of black-and-white woodcuts.

In order to learn polychrome printmaking, takes part in a two-week symposium on this technique, led by Japanese master printmaker Toshi Yoshida, at the University of Calgary, Alberta. Thereafter, produces nearly twenty colour woodcuts using water-based inks, called Série hiver (1967-68). Also experiments with small printing blocks of different types of wood and textures, as well as various kinds of paper, using an electric drill to carve the blocks. Makes the cartoon for a large tapestry, La Résurrection du Christ, measuring 4.5 m x 15.2 m, produced by Jeanne Molleur and her team for the church of Saint-Paul d’Aylmer in Hull.

1968 Completes a four-month internship with Toshi Yoshida in Tokyo, Japan, after receiving a grant from Québec’s Ministère des Affaires culturelles. Travels there with Jeanne and lives with Yoshida. Discovers a paradox in Japan: Americanization, yet strong traditional culture; realizes the importance and value of American culture, and the quality of space in North America compared with the density of Japanese cities. Gains the necessary discipline to focus energy so as to plan concepts and prepare work, but quickly rejects Yoshida’s inflexible traditional method and adopts Munakata’s instead. After Japan, turns to serigraphy, a more popular contemporary printmaking technique.

Studies design management at Montréal’s École des hautes études commerciales.

Takes part, as a graphic designer, in the start-up of Radio-Québec (Télé-Québec).

1968-1969    Produces his third artist’s book: Dead-line, ten serigraphs and a text by Michel-Pierre Sarrazin. Exhibits Suite Hiver at Galerie 1640 in Montréal and Gallery Pascal in Toronto.

1969 Travels through the United States, visiting universities, electronics centres, research centres and industrial, hydroelectric and nuclear sites. Is fascinated by new technology. Gains an understanding of the conflict between the hippie generation and the technology race. Also visits Tamarind and Gimini printmaking studios. Ken Tyler shows him prints by Robert Rauschenberg. This research and study trip prompts him to make the serigraphs Techno I and II (1970-71), which would be published by Formart.

1970-75 Founds Les Éditions Formart, Inc., a publishing house devoted to communications in the visual arts field, including catalogues, slides and videos. Produces educational audiovisual programs for Québec’s Ministère de l’Éducation. Lives on Carré Saint-Louis in Montréal.

Produces Initiation aux métiers d’art, a collection of thirty titles on arts and crafts techniques.

1971 Receives the C.W. Jeffrey Award, International Exhibition of Graphics, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

1971-74 Concentrates on multimedia productions for Formart and does not publish any prints.

1971-81 Creates a market for small original prints as part of Montréal’s annual craft fair, the Salon des métiers d’art du Québec.

1973-74 Founding member of the Association des graveurs du Québec.

1974 Returns to printmaking, with a few serigraphs.

Explores ways to integrate serigraphy into design concepts for industrial applications.

1974-75 Finds a piece of land on Montée Gagnon in Val-David, north of Montréal. Builds a house there, on the north slope of the mountain, using old B.C. timber salvaged from the former Canadian Pacific Railway Angus Shops. Moves into the house in November 1975.

1975 Produces his fourth artist’s book: L’Ancêtre, serigraph and a poem by Félix Leclerc.

1976 Installs a press built to his own design and specifications. Very active as a printmaker; produces the serigraphs of Série hiver and the woodcuts of Série Gaspésie. From 1976 on, most of his prints are woodcuts.

1977 January/February: visits Mexico with his family for the first time in twenty years. Pays a visit to Isabel Carbajal Bolandi and travels through the country.

Travels in the Laurentians; this would form the basis of the woodcuts in the series Précambrien et Cambrien (1977-78).

Discovers Baskatong reservoir and produces his first multi-panel work, Suite Baskatong.

Produces his fifth artist’s book: 21 janvier, a woodcut and a poem by Guy Davidson.

1978 Exhibitions at the Centre culturel de Val-d’Or and Centre communautaire de la Baie James in northern Québec.

Founding member and director of the Conseil québécois de l’estampe; visits Inuit printmaking studios in Povungnituk as delegate of the Québec government.

1979 Makes two trips to northern Québec with geologists and scientists conducting soil surveys; flies over the region by plane and helicopter, gaining an aerial view of the landscape. Thereafter, produces the series of colour woodcuts Suite Nordique. Makes three large, multi-panel murals: Suite Nordique, Nouveau-Québec and Taïga.

Travels to Europe: France, Italy and Greece. Is impressed by the magnificence of the monuments and the long-term commitment required for their construction.

1980 Suite Nordique presented at World Print Three, Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco.

1981 Suite Nordique and Nouveau-Québec exhibited in the group show The Big Print at the Harbourfront Art Gallery, Toronto.

1981-84 Produces the series Between, some of whose pieces are an amalgam of early prints, or prints on paper or canvas, with drawings or paintings added.

1982 First installation of prints and the blocks used to make them, in the exhibition Empreintes et Reliefs presented at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and the Musée du Québec in Québec City.

Produces his sixth artist’s book: Jamésie, six woodcuts and a poem by Camil Laverdière.

1982 Nouveau-Québec included in Canadian Contemporary Printmakers, a travelling exhibition in the United States and Mexico organized by the Bronx Museum of Arts, New York, and The Fine Line Art Gallery, Toronto. Gives three talks, including two at Escuela Esmeralda. Travels to Mexico regularly after 1983.

1985 July: Produces Hommage à…, first installation in which the prints are hung away from the walls, creating a three-dimensional space.

September 19: Experiences the earthquake in Mexico City after arriving there to install his exhibition Suite Nordique at the Museo Universitario del Chopo. The exhibition then travels to the Instituto Cultural Cábañas, Guadalajara, and the Centro Cultural Alfa, Monterrey. It started out at the Northern Illinois University art gallery and the World Print Council gallery in San Francisco. The earthquake has an indelible effect on him, forming a deep-rooted connection with his innermost personal territories.

1985-86 Produces the series Mémoire et cri génétique in response to the earthquake, which elicits a more sensual, emotional approach from him.

1985-90 Returns to Mexico every year. Produces hundreds of drawings. Makes prints in Carlos Garcia Estrada’s studio, El Taller del Parque, in Chapultepec Park in Mexico City.

1986 Produces his seventh artist’s book: Mémoire et Cri génétique, woodcut and a text by Michel-Pierre Sarrazin.

Receives an award at the Ninth British International Print Biennial, Bradford, England.

Travels to France, Spain and England.

1987 June: Makes first trip to Reykjavík, Iceland, to take part in an international symposium, Graphica Atlantica. Exhibits Têtes en Neuf. Draws renewed energy from the North. Discovers phenomena from the earliest days of the world: volcanoes, geysers, hot springs.

1989-90 Produces Équinoxe, a set of thirty or so large polychrome wood reliefs.

Exhibition at the Galerie de l’Université du Québec à Montréal, Museo Nacional de la Estampa in Mexico City and Edmonton Art Gallery. Before that, sets up a series of installations of relief printing blocks in the winter landscape of the Guindon quarry in Val-David.

Produces the installation Migrations, 20,000 ceramic figurines on a territory consisting of a polychrome wood relief measuring 2.40 m x 50 m (8’ x 164’). Exhibits it, in June, at the Museo Tamayo de Arte Contemporáneo Internacional, Mexico City, and in September, at the Musée du Québec, Québec City, along with a piece by artist Helen Escobedo. Of the 20,000 ceramic figurines, makes 8,000 at the Valiente Nieto studio in San Bartolo de Coyotepec, near Oaxaca, and the rest in Val-David.

1990 Produces his eighth artist’s book: Équinoxe Nord Sud, woodcut and a poem by Pierre Morency.

1991 Builds a second studio in Val-David so that he can make the many printing blocks for Migrations, which stretch over 2.4 m x 50 m.

Produces an integrated artwork at the Musée d’art de Joliette: Équinoxe, polychrome wood relief.

1991-92 Françoise de la Cressonnière makes the video Migrations with Pixart and in collaboration with Once TV in Mexico City.

1992 Awarded the Grand prix en Arts visuels by the Conseil de la culture des Laurentides.

Produces his ninth artist’s book: Migrations, six serigraphs and a wood relief with ceramics, as well as a poem by Claude Beausoleil.

1993 With Michel-Pierre Sarrazin, publishes L’Espace et la densité (Éditions de l’Hexagone, Montréal), a book on his life and his work.

1994 Receives Distinction award at the VIII Jozef Gielniak Graphic Arts Competition, Jelenia  Gora, Poland.

Gives a workshop at the Fine Arts Academy, Reykjavík, Iceland.

Creates Fleuve-Mémoires, in tribute to his father and brother, and to celebrate his ancestral roots. Casts off three thousand ceramic figurines from Migrations in the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers, moving from west to east between May 10 and 13; on June 7, casts sixteen thousand ceramic figurines into the St. Lawrence, while Jeanne Molleur photographs the event between Île-aux-Coudres and Baie-Saint-Paul.

Installation at the Centre d’art in Baie-Saint-Paul in June.

1995 First symposium: Les Territoires rapaillés.

Invited by Roberto Guevara, director of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas, Venezuela, as guest artist for the Bienal Barro de América in Caracas. Produces ceramic and wood reliefs Tiempo y Continuidad: Los Árboles de la Vida. After the exhibition, five hundred ceramic figurines are cast into the Caribbean Sea.

1996 Establishes the Fondation Derouin to offer multicultural and intercultural symposiums, every summer, on the meaning of place. Invites artists from throughout the Americas. Publishes Ressac. De Migrations au Largage (Éditions de l’Hexagone, Montréal), a book explaining the Migrations project and its largage (casting off) into the depths of the St. Lawrence River.

Organizes the second Fondation Derouin symposium: Intégration aux lieux.

1997 Participates in the Sightlines symposium on site-specific art, at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton.

Organizes the third Fondation Derouin symposium: La Sonorité des lieux.

1998 A retrospective of forty years of his explorations in art, Frontiers, Frontières, Frontieras, opens at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta, organized by Patricia Ainslie, art researcher and curator at the Glenbow.

Produces a gigantic mural, Paraíso. La dualité du baroque (2.40 m x 32 m), for the Musée de la civilisation in Québec City.

Takes part in the Bienal de Barro de América at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Sofía Imber in Caracas, Venezuela, as guest artist and produces a large-scale installation, La dualidad de los espacios.

In December, exhibits a mini-retrospective of works on paper at Galerie Jean-Claude Bergeron, in Ottawa.

Grant A, Canada Council for the Arts.

1998-1999 Receives a Career Grant (award spread over two years) from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.

1999 Receives the Palacío de Bellas Artes medal from the Consulate of Mexico.

Receives the Prix Paul-Émile Borduas from the Québec government.

Receives the Prix à la création artistique en région from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Conseil de la culture des Laurentides.

Travels to France and Spain.

Publishes Paraíso. La dualité du baroque (Éditions de l’Hexagone, Montréal), his journal on the genesis of the work of the same title.

With Yves Doyon of Bande Vidéo, produces the video Paraíso. La dualité du baroque on the work of the same title.

Retrospective Frontiers, Frontières, Frontieras presented at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts from January 12 to March 15 (see Glenbow, 1998).

Exhibits his recent works Between-Paraíso at Galerie Simon Blais, Montréal.

Produces his tenth artist’s book: Boréal. Atlantique Nord, with French writer and poet Frédéric-Jacques Temple. This book contains eight woodcuts by Derouin and a poem by Temple.

Exhibits Territoires nordiques at the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec.

Exhibits the installation La Dualidad de los espacios at the Centre d’exposition du Vieux-Palais, Saint-Jérôme.

Takes part in the Printemps du QuébecFrance 1999 event in Paris, by producing an enormous aluminum and bronze installation, La Traversée du territoire, (1.83 m x 45 m) at the Jardin des plantes.

Organizes the fourth Fondation Derouin symposium: Mythologie des lieux, with the Centre d’expositions du Vieux Palais in Saint-Jérôme.

2000 Extended stay in Oaxaca, Mexico, to prepare the manuscript Pour une culture du territoire (Éditions de l’Hexagone).

Exhibition Territoires Migrations at the Musée du Bronze, Inverness, Québec, and the Fondation Bombardier, Valcour, Québec.

2001 Produces the series of prints Le dernier territoire, in Mexico.

Organizes the fifth Fondation Derouin symposium: Pour une culture du territoire; with Gilles Lapointe, publishes Pour une culture du territoire (Éditions de l’Hexagone).

Produces the installation La Ligne dormante for the Centre d’exposition Circa, Montréal.

Exhibits Fragments du territoire at Galerie Simon Blais and Galerie Estampe Plus.

Coordinates the installation La Pêche miraculeuse at Montréal’s Biosphere.

2002 With Martine Simard-D’Arc, organizes the sixth Fondation Derouin symposium: Espace et densité.

La Ligne dormante, Les Derniers Territoires et la collection de Denis Doré exhibited in Trois-Rivières, at the city’s cultural centre, the Maison du Parc and Presse-papier studio.

As part of the Festival international de la poésie de Trois-Rivières, gives a performance by the river, La Pêche de la poésie, with poems by Claude Beausoleil.

2003 Extended stay in Îles-de-la-Madeleine; exhibits La Ligne dormante at the Musée de la Mer.

The Centre culturel de Val-David organizes a retrospective of his works from collectors in the Laurentians.

Presents Graphies des lieux, documenting the 1950s and 1960s, at Praxis Art actuel.

Organizes the seventh Fondation Derouin symposium: Les Jardins du précambrien.

2004 Produces eight murals for the Theology Library (formerly the chapel) at Jean-de-Brébeuf College, titled Trois siècles de migration sur le territoire des Amériques.

Presents the series Hiver noir at Galerie Jean-Claude Bergeron and Galerie Simon Blais.

Artist’s book with a text by Manon Regimbald.

With architects Beaupré Michaud, Dupuis LeTourneux, receives the Orange Award from Save Montréal, for his work at Jean-de-Brébeuf College.

Invited to Bienal Barro de América V, and produces the installation Las Estrellas del Fondo del Mar, in Maracaíbo, Venezuela.

Produces his eleventh artist’s book: Hiver noir, eighteen digital images evoking the influences of woodcut, accompanied by a text by Manon Regimbald.

2005 Produces Les Migrants de l’espace (L’Espace suspendu), a sculpture for the Bibliothèque de Mont-Tremblant.

With curator Manon Regimbald, organizes the Fondation Derouin’s eighth International Symposium of In Situ Art, on the theme Amérique baroque/Barroca América.

Éditions de l’Hexagone publishes En chemin avec René Derouin, by Manon Regimbald with a contribution by Monserrat Gali Boadela of Mexico.

Receives the Award of Excellence, 23rd edition, from the Ordre des architectes du Québec, for his murals for the Theology Library at Jean de Brébeuf College.

2006     Receives the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest distinction the Mexican government awards to foreign citizens, in recognition of their work and their contribution to Mexico in various fields, including the arts. Presented on March 23, 2006, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, by the Ambassador of Mexico, Maria Teresa Garcia Segovia de Madero, accompanied by the Consul General for Mexico in Montréal, Manuel Cosio, on behalf of the President of Mexico, Vicente Fox.

Cultural visit to Israel organized by the Québec-Israel committee.

On July 30, is named Personality of the Week by the newspaper La Presse.

2007     Is named a Chevalier of the Ordre de la Pléiade. The order of La Pléiade, an honorary order of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, is an initiative of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF). It was established to fulfil an international mission, recognizing people who have particularly distinguished themselves in the service of the ideals of cooperation and friendship in the French-speaking world.

With curator Danielle Lord, organizes the ninth International Symposium of In Situ Art, on the theme Voyage.

With Gilles Lapointe, produces the book  Les Jardins du Précambrien (Éditions de l’Hexagone).

Exhibits Hiver Noir, < Construction/déconstruction > at the Centre d’exposition de l’Université de Montréal. Curator: Luis de Moura Sobral.

Exhibits the installation Oro y Sal at the Centro de las Artes, Monterrey, Mexico, for the Foro Universal de las Culturas.

A number of works from Derouin’s Or et Sel series illustrate the book Les cent plus beaux poèmes québécois, edited by Pierre Graveline (Éditions Fides).

Residency on Québec’s North Shore at the studio of Chantale Harvey.

2008 Is named a Chevalier of the Ordre national du Québec.

Exhibits Suite Gaspésie at the Musée le Chafaud, Percé, Québec. Curator: Manon Regimbald.

Residency at Villa James for the production of the installation La Chapelle.

2009 Exhibits Oro y Sal at the Galerie d’art du Centre culturel de l’Université de Sherbrooke. Curator: Suzanne Pressé.

Exhibits the installation La Chapelle at the Centre d’exposition Circa, Montréal.

Éditions Fides publishes Derouin. L’art comme engagement, with texts by Léo Rosshandler, Claudette Hould, Luis de Moura Sobral and Manon Regimbald.

2010 Exhibits Or et Sel and La Chapelle at the Centre d’exposition de Val-David. Curator: Manon Regimbald.

Launch of public artwork Autour de mon Jardin around the Marché Dufresne, in Val-David.

Publication of catalogue Autour de mon Jardin, with a preface by Yanick Villedieu, text by René Viau and journal kept by Derouin during the production of the work Autour de mon Jardin (Éditions du Versant Nord).

Twenty-minute documentary by Martin Frigon on the public artwork Autour de mon Jardin.

In response to an invitation by Mexico to join in a tribute for the 200th anniversary of the country’s independence and the 100th anniversary of the Mexican revolution, produces La Vida y la Muerte.

2011   For the Fondation Derouin’s International Symposium of In Situ Art – LEGACY, takes on the role of artistic director, with curator Emmanuel Gallant.

Exhibits recent works and gives a talk at Galerie Michel Guimont, Québec City.

2012 Suite Hiver, recent works, exhibited at Galerie Jean Claude Bergeron.

Curates the 2012 Jardins du Précambrien/Fondation Derouin International Symposium of In Situ Art.

Film La Grande Invasion by Martin Frigon on Autour de mon Jardin and the disorderly development of the Laurentians.

Film René Derouin artiste de la nordicité, by Rodophe Caron (Trésors vivants series, Phare-Est Média).

Exhibition Fragments de Territoire, at the Maison de la Culture Parc Extension. Curator: Manon Regimbald.

La Vida y Muerte exhibited in thirty museums around the world.

2013 Publication of Graphies d’atelier. Le trait continu, correspondence and open letters of René Derouin, with a contribution by Gilles Lapointe (Éditions Fides).

Exhibition Fleuve. Rétrospective sur l’américanité at the Grande Bibliothèque in conjunction with the artist’s donation of his archives to the BANQ.