Artist in Focus: Paul Beliveau

July 16, 2022
Artist in Focus: Paul Beliveau
It is broadly accepted wisdom that judging books by their covers is to be avoided if you want to be the kind of person who gets invited to dinner parties. Adages are made to be broken however as firmly demonstrated in the case of Canadian Hyperrealist artist Paul Beliveau; who over the course of his four decades of work has claimed cover jackets as his central muse and model.

'Vanitas 15.09.14 (White Malevich Composition)' acrylic on canvas, 76 x 152 cm and '
Les Humanites CCCLII: L'Art' 
acrylic on canvas, 61 x 122 cm

His works are monumental in size: each artwork displaying several titanic book spines resting against each other; a glimpse of a giant’s library. Whilst there is a certain quality reminiscent of Pop Art to Beliveau’s approach, the execution is pure Hyperrealism. The books seem to practically curve out of the wall, with each tear in the paper or scuff of flaking leather painted with the kind of depth and clarity that is almost slightly shocking to witness in the flesh.

'Vanitas 15.09.28 History of Music' acrylic on canvas, 152 x 244 cm

Hyperrealist art uses the possibilities created by digital photography and editing software to accentuate reality rather than simply reproducing it (like Hypperealism’s artistic ancestor Photorealism) and this is particularly true for Beliveau: rendered through his eyes, the exterior of a book has just as much to say as the interior. Whilst Beliveau does paint books from his own collection, he also designs fictional titles which fit indistinguishably into the literary jigsaws of his works. As a result he can create dream sums where Marilyn Monroe and Einstein can be laid side by side, establishing un-thought of connections and themes between historical figures, the arts and celebrity simply by virtue of their placement next to each other.

'Free Fall (Les Humanites CCCXCIII)' acrylic on canvas, 102 x 152 cm

Beliveau is very specific about each book’s subject and placement within the artwork in order to achieve a perfect balance with its fellows along with the mix of aesthetics and ideas he wants to engender. He is represented by Plus One Gallery in London, which has many of his most evocative works which, particularly considering Beliveau’s focus on size, deserve to be seen in the flesh. In an increasingly digital world, Beliveau must be commended for managing to return books to their pride of place.

- Max Feldman for KCW Today Newspaper

'Vanitas 11.04.04: Japanese Woodblock' acrylic on canvas, 122 x 122 cm

All these works are currently available in the gallery. For any enquiries or to book an appointment to view any of these paintings email or call 020 7730 7656

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