Alfred Pellan, 1940
As the first recipient of the government of Quebec’s fine-arts scholarship, Alfred Pellan travelled to Paris in 1926 and remained there until the Second World War forced him back to Canada in 1940. For artists in Quebec on the verge of exploring Cubism and Surrealism, Pellan’s work was a liberating example. “ Because of [Pellan],” said one art critic, “we are rushing to recover the half-century by which we have fallen behind”.
In 1948, in opposition to the Automatistes, Pellan and his circle of artists formed the Prisme d’yeux calling for an art “liberated from all contingencies of time and place, from restrictive ideologies”.
Some of his paintings are reflecting on Picasso’s work of the early 1930s.
Pellan, already acclaimed for his murals, creates a mosaic-like surface, animating the organic shapes with a geometric patterning of textures and lines that transports us to a world of fantasy.
In the 1940s, a Montreal exhibition of his European work, which revealed his admiration for the 20th-century masters Picasso and Matisse, rocked the Quebec art world.
Source: Alfred Pellan, La modernité, Musée d’art contemporain des Laurentides, 2006; Anne Newlands, Canadian art form its beginnings to 2000, Firefly book, 2000