Canadian Mosaic: Paul-Émile Borduas

Beaverbrook Art GalleryMay 16, 20170 Comments

Canadian Mosaic: Paul-Émile Borduas


The work L’Echo gris, 1952 by Paul-Émile Borduas (Canadian, 1905-1960) is currently featured in the Modern section of the new exhibition Canadian Mosaic: Celebrating 150 Years of art from the Permanent CollectionL’Echo Gris, 1952 is a rare, significant, and highly sophisticated mid-20th century painting by one of Canada’s most notable artists.  Over the course of his career, Borduas evolved towards this kind of painting through automatic surrealism. The works of just a few years previous still retained vestiges of imagery and figure-ground illusions.

L’Echo Gris functions as a pure abstraction painting. The impasto paint is generously applied by palette knife. In this particular work, Borduas has established his signature methodology and it is one of the earliest known examples that is evidence of this establishment. By this time, Borduas would typically construct his paintings through the application of layered masses of painterly material, changing densities, thickness and directionality of the strokes to create an overall composition.  In a more traditional approach, by contrast, one might use linear drawing to encapsulate shapes and then fill in these spaces changing colour, tones and shading to define and make these different areas visible. In essence L’Echo Gris sculpts paint into a bas-relief. The composition and rhythmic interest depends as much as anything else upon highlight and shadows falling upon paint of the exact same colour and tone that has been varied by degrees of thickness.

Come see L’Echo Gris on display now in Canadian Mosaic. What do the colours and texture of this artwork make you think of?

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