Paul-Émile Borduas 1905 - 1960
- Paul-Émile Borduas
- Blancs Métaux
- signed and dated '55 lower left
- oil on canvas, mounted on board
Collection Marcelle Beaulieu
Equinox Gallery, Vancouver
Private Collection, Port Hope
While he was in 'exile' in New York, having been unceremoniously cashiered from his teaching position for having written the Refus Global in 1948, and having severed himself from his Automatiste colleagues after disagreement with the direction they were proposing, Borduas nevertheless set to work in a new direction.
He left behind his concerns with surrealism and 'automatisme' and moved instead toward a kind of intelligent but emotional abstraction, a direction that Marcelle Ferron in Paris was pursuing in her own way too. These initial forays produced magical canvases like this one. The creamy-rich pigments, lavishly applied, and the brilliant veins of colour, which run through the thickly trowelled sweeps and swirls of paint that make up the composition, became Borduas's 'style' for the middle years of the 1950s. His choice of black, white, and red, for the most part, also gives simplicity to his work, even as it complicates the challenge he had to retain a sense of clarity and power.
In the case of Blanc Métaux, there is an additional factor to consider, and that is its condition. Many of Borduas's canvases, regrettably, have fallen victim to the varying drying times of the heavy layers of pigment he applied. This has stressed the painting surface and caused cracking, often extensive and irreparable. This painting is one that, happily, has survived intact and without blemish. This pristine quality, besides being rare, adds an aura of light and freshness to the work, and makes it a particular pleasure to contemplate.