I have to state straight out that Paul Emile Borduas is one of my favourite Canadian Artist (also from Quebec like Molinari). I think a part of my ever present love for this artist is his having been trained by Ozais Leduc (whom I will probably talk about at some point) and his progression from Ozais’ realism to Borduas’ use of abstraction. Having studied realism Borduas, at the age of 36, started trying his hand at abstract painting! One of the best quotes from him is: "Children, always of great interest to me, opened up the way of surrealism, of automatic writing. The most perfect condition of the act of painting was finally unveiled." This is exactly what I wish to express for our exploration of art: simplicity and the ever present concept of Process vs Product (I know, I keep saying that but seriously it is SO TRUE for all artists no matter age and skill level?)
"The Black Star" from 1957 by Paul Emile Borduas
Some of his works are similar to the works of Molinari but with less emphasis on smooth coloured surfaces and instead a focus on paint as a texture and the use of colour. Being a large part of the Automatisme movement in Montreal, his abstract paintings became a symbol of the era. His painting “The Black Star” from 1957 is oil on canvas that has become one of his most popular paintings to date. This was created just a few years before his death and is one of his most striking images. The stark contrast and simple use of shape and paint are superb use of minimalistic qualities and expressions of abstraction (mainly movement, form and texture).
This is one of two great pieces that I will talk about. The second is “Leeward of the Island”, which I will talk about in my next post. For now we will continue on “the Black Star”.
"Leeward of the Island" 1947, Paul Emile Borduas
Having taught many types of artists with a wide variation of abilities and skill levels I have always found that “the Black Star” is the next progression of the use of paint. We have moved from viewing painting as a representation of the colour(s) and the forms, into a vision of texture and depth. There is nothing written that ever states that painting must remain flat surfaced and smooth. This, however, is the view of many in the representational use of the medium, mostly due to the productions of prints. Prints have always been an unfair mode to view abstract and textured images, they are great for exposure to the artists and I do support them, but there is always something missing in the flatness of a print. I highly recommend going and seeing some of these in person!!
"Aquarelle no.4" 1957, Paul Emile Borduas
Our first activity will be about the use of texture and depth. Not all mediums will allow for texture (water colour for example) but that doesn’t mean they cannot have depth. In Borduas’ image “Aquarelle no 4” from 1957, which is a watercolour, you can see that Borduas is using colour and movement to create a sense of texture. He has allowed pieces of his work to dry and then added new colours on top of them creating depth and form. He also uses contrasting, high impact colours to make the forms jump off the page. This is an easy concept to explore at all skill levels with a large variety of mediums (paint (oil or acrylic), watercolour, chalk, pencil crayon, you name it!).
So lets Create!
Here's the activity for Pt.1 : Colour, Depth and Texture