Both gritty and soulful, Leon deMontignie's paintings depicted scenes of suburbia, country towns, parks, loneliness, alcoholism, homelessness, and despair.
Leon deMontignie spent much of his nomadic life in Albury and the North East Victoria region. Disrupted by illness, itinerant work and accommodation, his unsettled life limited his ability to absorb himself fully into his artistic practice. Since his passing in 2016, a body of work started to emerge from friends with whom deMontignie had traded paintings for kindness.
Towards the end of his life, deMontignie befriended children's book author Peter Klein (of Bethanga, VIC), and together they published the Mudpoo series of adventure stories, illustrated by deMontignie. Klein released the fourth installment of Mudpoo in 2018 which contained deMontignie's final illustrations, a number of which were presented in this exhibition.
The Life and Death of an Unknown Artist brought deMontignie's life's work home. Locals could immediately recognised familiar scenes of suburban streets in Albury, the Botanic Gardens, and the wineries of Rutherglen. A painter that lived and died in obscurity, the gentle humour and compassion in his scenes left a lingering sadness for an artist that did not live to see an exhibition of his extensive catalogue of work.