How many artists can boast they sold their first work at the age of 17? Let alone to the National Gallery of Canada. That’s the type of wunderkind Alfred Pellan was – he was a boy wonder on the Canadian arts scene in the 1920s and remained a hot ticket until his death in 1988. Now, some of his most collectible works are on view – and yours to purchase – at the Galerie Lounge TD…
Right downtown in the Quartier des spectacles, with a spectacular view of the Musée d’art contemporain, this gallery within the Maison des festivals Rio Tinto Alcan is a gorgeous space in itself, let alone a site for art consumption. Alongside a running exhibition of prints by Quebec artists associated with one or another of Montreal’s many festivals, it organizes temporary theme exhibitions, like this one featuring a beautiful body of prints by Alfred Pellan.
A master of fantastical colours and movement inspired by dance and theatrical performances, Pellan was best known as the counterpoint to another local master, Paul-Émile Borduas. While Borduas famously signed a manifesto called the Refus global, which called for a reinvention of art and the art world based on natural gesture, instinct and a lack of self-consciousness, Pellan signed the Prisme d’yeux manifesto, which proclaimed a pure, universal breed of painting that aimed at spiritual expansion. He also believed the instinctive gesture was a useful starting point in the making of art, but while Borduas stopped the process there, Pellan believed that was just the first step; that making art meant creating, sometimes painstakingly, an entire universe around that first gesture.
His universe was filled with acrobats, dancers, animals and abstracted shapes, all commingling in complex, high octane patterns and colour fields in both large-scale paintings and smaller short-run prints like those exhibited here. There’s a sense of humour and a joy for life in almost all his works – and clearly, the pure pleasure of pigment.
Alfred Pellan: Peinture Pure, Until December 1, 2013