Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
to ignore; refusal to remain silent.) Calling for 'le risqué total dans le
refus global' (52; the risk of all in total refusal), Borduas invites all those
committed to freedom to join in a collective effort of artistic, and thus
social transformation: 'Que ceux tentés par l'aventure se joignent à
nous … nous poursuivrons dans la joie notre sauvage besoin de lib-
eration.' (54; Let those who are inspired by this endeavour join us …
we shall pursue in joy our overwhelming need for liberation.) The
word 'sauvage' in the French text implies an affirmation of nature and
natural forces in their most primitive sense - 'forces vives' (53) - and
a concomitant rejection of culture in all its common forms: institutions
like the church, icons like popular works of art, and the very faculty of
reason. Borduas and his group favour the natural realm of imagina-
tion, accessible through spontaneity, which for them, takes the form of
'automatisme surrationnel,' akin to the methods of automatic writing
and painting practised by the French surrealists, but with specifically
French-Canadian forms and values. 2 And what arms does one muster to
attack culture but those of its negative correlative: nature. 3 Indeed, many
of the natural icons wielded in the work of the automatists are those al-
ready identiied in this topic - including the tree, the garden, the river,
and the mountain.
I hasten to clarify, in relation to the key pairing of nature and culture
in our discussion, that far from toppling culture and disturbing its
equilibrium with nature, Borduas rejects culture in its common form,
termed 'culture première' by Fernand Dumont, in order to arrive at a
higher sense or 'civilisation impatiente de naître' (53; civilization impa-
tient to be born), tellingly akin to Dumont's 'culture seconde.' In fact, as
Dumont himself put it in a strongly worded statement in the catalogue
for a Borduas retrospective exhibition in 1971, 'L'automatisme québé-
cois - celui de Borduas et de son groupe - n'a pas été seulement la
transposition au Québec d'un surréalisme étranger. Il était le recom-
mencement d'une culture d'ici.' ('En ce temps,' 19; Quebecois automa-
tism - that of Borduas and his group - was not merely the transposition
of foreign surrealism to Quebec. It was the beginning of our new cul-
ture.) 4 In the terms of the present study, this new culture does not in-
volve the subordination of nature but its incorporation, especially
through the notion of liberation.
Indeed, in another powerful essay, 'La ligne du risque,' written in
1963 at the outset of the Quiet Revolution, Pierre Vadeboncoeur attri-
butes the movement's origins to Borduas, while highlighting the notion
of freedom: 'Le Canada-français moderne commence avec lui. Il nous a
 
Search WWH ::




Custom Search