About the artist
GABRIEL BONMATI – 1928-2005
Singular artist and iconic emissary of a particular era in the history of art of the last fifty years, the work of Gabriel Bonmati is part of the international artistic heritage but is also well anchored in the Quebec imagination.
Bonmati was born in Morocco to a Franco-Spanish family. He studied French Belles Lettres, philosophy and Greco-Latin literature through the traditional classical course. Then, he continued his studies at the École des Beaux-arts in Paris and in Marseille, which led him to teaching.
From 1952 to 1965, he taught in a high school for girls in Casablanca. At the same time, Gabriel Bonmati successfully leads a career as an artist with exhibitions in vernissages in Europe.
Influenced by the great currents of twentieth-century art, the evolution of the artist, in the 1950s, goes through a hybrid vision between cubism and geometricism, but with an approach and a sensitivity comparable to fauvism. His subjects, although figurative, seem to be only a pretext and subordinate to the shapes and colors that he manipulates in a spirit close to his contemporaries, whether figurative or not.
The complex compositions of his Lusitanian or Provençal landscapes show a very contemporary approach by the artist.
His studies at the Beaux-Arts – both in Paris and Marseilles – clearly exposed him to the bohemian life of the artists of his time and to the artistic explosion that marked the middle of the twentieth century almost everywhere in the world.
In Casablanca, in 1960, he met another painter Lucien Bensaid who introduced him to the technique of screen printing, which opened up pictorial avenues to him that had hitherto been unsuspected.
His approach is then radically changed. The very nature of screen printing pushes him towards a freedom where the realism of proportions, perspective or slavery to figuration become secondary to pure plastic expression.
The iconography of the artist’s work then moves from a vision firmly anchored in an entirely objective reality to a universe where imagination, dream, sensuality and memory take a preponderant place.
To this end, it should probably be noted that, in 1967, Bonmati moved to Quebec, which he visited during the Universal Exhibition and whose landscapes charmed the painter who will therefore draw inspiration from the dynamics proper to America both in his artistic approach and in the choice of subjects he would paint until the end of his life.
It is in Quebec that the artist’s career really took off. He moved to America in his early forties, an accomplished artist confident in his abilities, ready to share his work with a new pool of amateurs. He then exhibited regularly at Artlendrers, Penders and at Elca London, prestigious galleries in the Montreal region but also in Europe alongside renowned artists such as Dali and Chagall and even in the United States.
From the mid-1970s, Bonmati found the theme that would become his signature until the end of his career: women.
Bonmati imagines – and this is the main characteristic of his work – often portraits of noble Middle Eastern ladies with timeless faces. Mainly inspired by the artist’s travels and experiences, his overflowing imagination populates a rich and sensual work that leaves no one indifferent.
A great connoisseur of jewelry, Gabriel Bonmati embellishes his canvases with symbolic elements by adding jewelry – often copied from gifts made to his wife -, richly decorated clothing or period furniture. The female faces of his paintings invite the amateur to discover an enchanting world where Bonmati’s imagination features sumptuous queens and their lavishly dressed attendants in a mythical and dreamy setting.
Bonmati quietly pursued his career until the beginning of the twenty-first century exhibiting in several galleries in Canada under the supervision of his agent Multi Art Ltée who, almost twenty-two years after his death, continues to promote the artistic heritage of this creator whose approach and imagination continue to seduce generations.
Bonmati’s works are found in numerous public and private collections and are available in several galleries across Canada.