Street artist Raymond Pilon, known as Zilon, has died

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Raymond Pilon, a Montreal street painter who went by the name Zilon, has died.

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Zilon was one of Montreal’s best-known street artists.

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Vincent Beauchamp of the Beauchamp Art Gallery made the announcement in a communiqué on Saturday. The circumstances of the artist’s death were not yet known, he said.

“Zïlon was not just an artist; he was a force of nature, an untamed icon of street art and, to me, a cherished friend and a deeply sensitive being who was skilled at hiding this side of himself behind the guise of the enfant terrible of pictorial art,” he wrote.

Born in 1956 in Laval, Zïlon was considered a leading figure in the Montreal underground punk movement of the 1970s and 1980s and recognized as well as a pioneer of Quebec street art.

Zïlon saw a natural kinship between his work and that of Jean Cocteau, the French poet, visual artist and critic of the early 20th century.

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“His contribution to art recognized no boundaries, as evidenced by his numerous and diverse collaborations with major international brands and artists from around the world and by his museum exhibitions,” Beauchamp said.

And yet he never lost “the punk musician energy” he had embodied from the early 1980s, he said.

“He carried within himself a worldview that allowed him to metabolize underground culture, popular culture, design and social advocacy through his expression in street art and the creation of his own language – his own artistic signature.”

Zilon was preparing a new series, Vandale De Luxe II, and preparing a collaboration with the painter Patrick Pépin, Beauchamp said. A book was also in his plans.

“These unfinished projects will remain, like Zïlon himself, as a testament to his inexhaustible creative energy.”

  1. Le Passeur by Myriam Fauteux (Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières)  on display at Fresh Paint/New Construction at Art Mûr gallery.

    Visual arts: Street artists vs. university-trained artists — there’s no contest

  2. Zilon spray-painting the same artwork at Under Pressure in 2010 that Sterling Downey says was used in Chevrolet's “Mixed and Mastered” ad campaign

    Under Pressure wants Chevrolet to compensate its artists for using their images in ad campaign

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