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Léo Ayotte: The Penniless Painter


Léo Ayotte was a self-taught Quebec painter born in Sainte-Flore in 1909. Although poetry was Ayotte's first passion, his artistic resolve went far beyond the written word. In 1938, Ayotte moved to Montreal Sainte-Famille. With no money, he found himself work as a model and janitor at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal.

Although he had no formal art education, Ayotte was determined to create. After work, he would pick up the half-empty tubes left by careless students and use them to paint. Soon after, Ayotte was discovered by the school director, who saw one of his works and pronounced him as the best student in the school. Ayotte painted for over 30 years, often using just one brush and never returning to touch up a work once he had finished. A reflection of his poetry, Ayotte’s colourful landscapes are hymns to the beauty and joy he found in nature.

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