A master of drawing and colour, Alfred Pellan was an important creative figure who helped forge Québec’s modern artistic identity. After his studies at the École des beaux-arts de Québec, he pursued his training in Paris where he continued to live for fourteen years. During this period, he was heavily influenced by modern European art trends such as Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, and Surrealism, and eventually developed a pictorial practice that purposefully combined figuration and abstraction. Pellan socialized with the likes of Fernand Léger, Pablo Picasso, surrealist writer André Breton, and poet Paul Éluard. He became familiar with different schools of philosophical and aesthetic thought, which had a direct impact on the evolution of his approach to painting. On his return to Québec in 1942, with a resolutely modern body of work that rejected all traditional notions of art, Pellan strived to promote an art form that was free of restrictive ideology and aesthetics, thus going against the strictly academic teachings of the time. Together with the Prisme d’yeux group, he signed a manifesto in support of this new artistic philosophy.

Portait of Alfred Pellan.
Photo: Richard-Max Tremblay (1988)