Pierre Gauvreau

24X20" // 60,96X50,8 CM

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Pierre Gauvreau, a great artist and canadian automatism painter

Canadian Grand master, painter, Pierre Gauvreau was born in Montreal in 1922 (death in 2011). Pierre Gauvreau studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Montreal after having made the cycle of Letters at the College Sainte-Marie. He is an automatist painter. Paul-Émile Borduas wrote of him in The Philadelphia Story (Winter 1947-1948): “Pierre the born painter. The most serene painting that is revolutionary. Dawn or sunset […]. “Trying to define painting of Pierre Gauvreau is impossible considering the size and vastness of his creation. Several periods punctuated his research. Signatory of the Refus Global (as, among others, his brother Claude – fundamental poet and playwright), Pierre Gauvreau has remained true to the spirit of surrealism throughout his life. Abstract painter? Labels do not stick to his creative assets.

A painter of many talents

After the automatist adventure, he joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation where he became one of the most important directors. From the early 1950s, we see less the painter, even if he does not neglect the practice of painting. He makes a remarkable return in 1975 with an exhibition composed of recent works that renew his language, and this without losing the essence of automatist and the spirit of the surreal. In addition, the exhibition is enhanced by his other professional and creative activities at Radio Canada and the National Film Board of Canada. His contribution to our society is vast. Painter, writer, director, author, filmmaker … His language and approach have marked Quebec in all its practices. 

“A great among greats! ” Robert Bernier

From 1960 to 1975 he abandons painting. In 1976, he takes back his brushes and relentlessly pursues his artistic exploration. In his latest production, Pierre Gauvreau use of caching and aerosol, which gives his work a raw character free from artifices. 

“The painting of Pierre Gauvreau, whether today or tomorrow, is and will always will be an act of lucidity and conviction. ” Robert Bernier

Quebec artist painter, artworks of Pierre Gauvreau are found in several major private, public and corporate collections. From October 2013 to September 2014, a major exhibition organized by the Museum of Civilization in Quebec honored Pierre Gauvreau and his world “Pierre Gauvreau. I was hoping to see you here. “


Pierre Gauvreau (1922-2011)

Pierre Gauvreau is well known to the general public as the author of the series Le temps d’une paix, Cormorant and Le volcan tranquille. Many know that he paints, but too few people know his real importance as an artist. The whole of his work ranks him among the most decisive painters of the past sixty years. Of course, Gauvreau was automatist. He signed Refus global, and already, in the 1940s, he was one of the great hopes in painting. However, the weight of this essential artist far exceeds what we could believe. Because his painting knew how to live beyond history.

Since 1976, the year in which he picked up once again his paint brushes after having temporarily interrupted his pictorial creation, he has relentlessly pursued his plastic exploration, and this, with amazing vitality, leading his expression to constant renewal while remaining in the continuity of his previous creative actions. In fact, if we generally make a marked distinction between the director Gauvreau and the painter Gauvreau, one sees in his different activities an inseparable whole, each being complementary and essential to his subject and the way he looks on its environment, on society, in short, on life. However, for the general public, it is not always easy to build links between these different activities. How do the painter, the director and the author complement each other in practice? How does Gauvreau’s painting benefit from it?

The correlation between the director and the painter seems to be manifested by the fact that Gauvreau, accustomed to working in control, on television, with a panoply of monitors, constructs his pictorial space by sequences. His extraordinary ability to establish links is reflected in his painting by his unique way of matching all parts of the work while establishing a modulation of rhythm. Indeed, Gauvreau’s paintings appear as an amalgam of forms and treatments which, at first glance, have little in common. However, he succeeds in creating fascinating interrelationships between the different areas. Abstract, the works tell more than they seem to, although they cannot be called narrative. This is part of his genius: creating dynamic spaces in which multiple correspondences intersect by building an autonomous universe animated by a life of its own, without being able to describe, name or tell the action, and without real relationship with physical reality.

One could even speak, for certain paintings, of “objective narration”, since the story which is told is essentially pictorial. Others obey a rapid, intuitive, almost wild gesture that recalls — while distinguishing itself from it — its automatist adventure, the spontaneous transcription of being, with the difference that today is added to this dimension a long-term thinking, areas of weighting that further enrich its plastic subject; a cross between the concerns of plastic artists, the automatist spirit and the rigor of its practice. And this rigor becomes a fundamental element of its creation in that it acts as a moderator. It has already been said or written that Pierre Gauvreau is a slow-maturing creator. It is true that the artist likes to take the time necessary to create, and that the process in which he engages sometimes requires a lot of patience. But there you have it, the initial drive is rather overwhelming for him, and it is the order of this drive that requires time. When the fire is well stoked, production explodes!

In his most recent production. Gauvreau uses caches and aerosol, which give his works a raw character, free of artifices. However even if the change of medium inevitably leads to a modification of the invoice, the foundations of his work remain so far unchanged: rigor and remarkable ability to build always surprising links. In short, today as yesterday, Pierre Gauvreau acts in a matter of a great transformer. His painting is alive not only because it evolves, transforms, but also because each painting that composes his work is a territory in which transmutation is expressed. The zonal modulation which characterizes its language carries within it the idea of passing from one state to another; the sequences are the vehicle, his thought and his philosophy of life, the engine. 

 Source : Robert Bernier, La peinture au Québec depuis les années 1960, Les Éditions de l’Homme, 2002, Gauvreau Pierre Gauvreau (1922), pages 27-29.