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Moreover, the appearance of the tree in the works of Borduas and
Gauvreau can also be compared with its prominence in previous works,
such as those of Conan and Leduc (see chapter four), which also depict
the landscape as a reflection of the inner world. In the previous cases, the
tree stands for specific psychic phenomena - destructive forces inherent
in material reality and hence the desire for spirituality - represented by
real-seeming figurative objects with clearly symbolic meanings. In the
case of Borduas and Gauvreau, however, the trees are part of a dynamic
pattern inherent in the unconscious whose elusive nature can be ex-
pressed only 'automatically' and non-representationally. Further familiar
icons reappear, their treatment differing radically from earlier examples
as we move from the forties into the fifties and then into the sixties. By
examining them, we can attempt to answer Axel Maugey's pertinent (al-
beit rhetorical) question: 'L'apparition, depuis la Deuxième Guerre
mondiale, d'une poésie universelle, annonce-t-elle la fin de l'isolement
d'une petite collectivité francophone soucieuse de participer à l'histoire
mondiale?' (7; Does the appearance of a universally oriented poetry
since the Second World War announce the end of isolation for a small
francophone collectivity anxious to participate in global history?)
Pellan and Giguère: The Garden
Although Borduas and his contemporary Alfred Pellan differed on pre-
cise issues beginning with Pellan's 'triumphant' return from France in
1940 and culminating with the latter's signing of the manifesto Prismes
d'yeux in 1948, which Borduas saw as a repudiation of the principles
outlined that same year in Refus global , Pellan remained committed to
individual and aesthetic liberation. 15 Like Borduas, Pellan saw close ties
between painting and literature and himself illustrated the innovative
poet Alain Grandbois's Les îles de la nuit in 1944. Since these illustrations
have been amply treated, 16 I turn, rather, to what Germain Lefebvre
identifies as 'an important milestone in Pellan's work' ( Pellan , 150), 17 a
series of paintings involving that most typical of all Quebec icons, the
garden. Indeed, the subject itself, being a mixture of nature and culture,
already suggests a major difference between the studied, tempered
manner of Pellan and the automatist approach to the unbridling of nat-
ural forces characteristic of Borduas and the automatists.
In 1958, Pellan did six paintings on the theme of the garden ( Jardin ),
each involving a different colour of the spectrum - bleu , jaune , rouge ,
mauve , orange , and vert - applied in a variety of ways, as Robert Bernier
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