From his very first exhibitions to his arrival in Paris in 1947, Jean Paul Riopelle was recognized as an exceptional painter, a force of nature in painting, in short, a born painter.
Certainly, in 1949, about his paintings exhibited at the Salon des Surindépendants, Patrick Waldberg, one of the most perceptive critics of the time, wrote: “if the public and professionals do not suffer from asthmatic shortness of breath and of a loss without remedies of the perceptive and sensitive faculties, no doubt that Riopelle’s painting had provoked today the same upheaval as formerly Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, the Fauves or the first cubists. There was in all those as there is with it this intense originality, this overflowing sap that nothing can stop and that asserts itself against all odds “.
The figure of style of the unknown event is a classic of the young critic, and one can also wonder if the “public”, yesterday as today, is the adequate instance of recognition of a young artist promising. What is certain, on the other hand, is that many young painters and some major figures in the art world were absolutely not mistaken.
Starting with André Breton, who immediately enrolled Riopelle in the surrealist ranks and took him to the international exhibition of surrealism, in 1947. Riopelle immediately entered a group of friends painters, sculptors, but also critics, among which Simon Hantai, Patrick Waldberg already named, Wols, Bryen, Georges Duthuit, Mathieu, Charchoune, but also a little later Sam Francis, Beckett, Serpan, Vieira da Silva, Hartung, Shirley Jaffe, Marcelle Loubchansky, Zao Wou-Ki, a group that would expand and enrich as galleries and frequented participations in group exhibitions.