“Always remember to take some time to slow down, follow your instincts and taste life to its fullest. It is the essence of truth in creation and of its extended relevance throughout generations.” – Calvin Klein
Never has the passing of a painter and university professor in graphics communication received such a vibrant tribute in the form of a letter published in a major daily newspaper. This short passage conveys its content: “We can say of him that he was colourful and that he has largely influenced our own sensibilities. This teacher was able to ingrain in us a sense of duty and a love of beauty. He made us believe in ourselves. Professor, you have loved us dearly, we know. It’s our turn to tell you how much we loved you in return. Your passion, so inspiring, will live on. It is now part of us all. And, we have long since started to in turn pass it along to others. We will never forget you, Mr. Claude A. Simard!” – Three decades of saddened students.
Wow! It certainly stirs at your heart! I wonder how the painter would have reacted at reading such a letter. For Claude A. Simard was a gentle man, a man who saw and appreciated the people around him, humanity in general and the act of creation in perpetual regeneration. So tender-hearted that he felt vulnerable, hence needed to hide behind some protective armour. He was never entirely convinced that his way of teaching was the right way. And, he felt the same about his artistic process, which motivated him to work on his paintings at length, until he finally felt satisfied. The painter’s wife, Huguette Moreau, is adamant: “If the studio door was closed, I was not to bother him. But, if the door was open, I knew he wished to hear me voice my opinion, although he never directly asked for it. I waited for the right moment to be able to speak objectively. He never trusted his first impression, never being entirely convinced of having fully realized his vision.”
Paper and pencil: that’s all it took to embark on a creative adventure! Claude A. Simard had an enterprising spirit which guided him throughout his life. He never imagined it could be any different. He bit into life fully. “He had this quality of being able to look at his work with a critical eye and foresee possible limitations in the expected result,” explains gallery owner Roch-André Perreault, who highly promoted the painter’s works here in Quebec and abroad.
“It all started when Claude A. and I met while we were both employed by Maison Simons,” relates Mr. Perreault. Claude A. Simard indeed started working in 1966 as a young graphic designer for the Quebec fashion retailer. “Logos, interior store design, advertising drawing: he’s the one who developed the company’s brand image of excellence,” says Roch-André Perreault, adding that, being himself a merchandise buyer for Simons at the time, he travelled all over the world for the retailer and his friend Claude A. never failed to ask him, upon his return, for a report on everything he had seen in Europe. “Claude A was an inspired creator and always on the look-out for the latest trends,” relates Mr. Perreault, reminiscing about his dear friend. “When I opened my own clothing store, where I offered international fashions, he’s the one I entrusted with the architectural design and signature brand. What he created was so audacious and innovative that people still remember it.”
“After the adventure with fashion designers, Claude A. was not surprised to find me working in the art world. His presence in my gallery’s pool of artists testifies to the friendship and mutual respect we shared. All my artists are important to me, but Claude A. had a way of putting himself forward, which was evident on our exhibition walls. The public’s response has always been extraordinary, and he knew it. But, he constantly sought to better himself, even though he was holding all the elements of a recipe that could be exploited indefinitely. Claude A. Simard has, in fact, never felt entirely within his comfort zone while creating. As a gallery owner, I was more than happy to represent such an artist.”
An exceptional legacy
The vivacious luminosity of nature! Happiness, joy of living and of painting with audacious colours to attract the eye and extract sentiment! Here are paintings that spread smiles on society. Smiles full of hope and joy! Facing his canvas, the painter never knew in advance what he was going to do. His compositions took form progressively as he painted, seeking unusual connections of space and volume among the various themes represented. His multiple trips abroad and the many drawings sketched under the lights that are so particular to Europe, allowed him to explore a variety of effects of balance and harmony, which, in the end, may have benefited his style, his vision even.
Claude A. Simard’s artistic path has engendered other areas of interest. Environmentally conscious, he advocated the protection of nature. He was always ready to fight for freedom of artistic expression as much as for the quality of life that will be our children’s legacy. And, via his paintings, he was able to permanently engage the public at large in his causes. Another challenge that this talented and perfectionist man has brilliantly met. Thank you for everything, Mr. Claude A. Simard!
Your Magazin’Art wishes to thank Mrs. Huguette Moreau, the painter’s widow, for her testimony, and Mr. Roch André Perreault, gallery-owner of renown and, most importantly, friend of the artist whose first creative sparks he was present to witness.
Texte by Michel Bois
Claude-A. Simard is represented by : Galerie Alan Klinkhoff, Montréal, Québec ; Galerie Perreault, Québec, Québec ; Galerie L’Harmattan, Baie-Saint-Paul, Québec ; Galerie Richard Hevey, Sainte-Adèle, Québec ; Galerie Roberts, Toronto, Ontario ; Galerie Masters, Calgary, Alberta ; Galerie Masters, Vancouver, C.-B. ; Galerie West End, Edmonton, Alberta ; Galerie West End, Victoria, C.-B.