Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
In pondering the relationship between art and self-discovery sug-
gested by Bonniec - 'Nous connaîtrions-nous seulement un peu nous-
mêmes, sans les arts?' (114; Could we ever know each other in the
slightest without the arts? [120]) - Pierre discovers a bond between
himself and other artists, notably Shakespeare. From this personal con-
nection, he then sees a link to humanity - 'l'art … était vaste, embrassait
l'homme tout entier' (116; The world of art … was vast, it encompassed
almost the whole of man [122]) - which helps him to understand
Bonniec's earlier definition of art as collaboration and protestation:
'L'artiste est protestataire; et d'abord contre le sort humain qui est de
finir.' (117; The artist is a protester; and first of all against the fate of all
mankind, which is, that it must come to an end [124].)
An increasing sense of the profound nature of art is reinforced by
Pierre's repeated discussions with his newfound friend and fellow
painter, Stanislas Lanski, and the master painter, Augustin Meyrand,
who, fascinated with the authenticity, originality, and vividness of
Pierre's sketches, accepts the Canadian in his studio despite his previ-
ous lack of professional training.
Despite the stimulation of Paris, Pierre begins to languish and feels
the constant (re)call of the wilderness: 'Les animaux, mais aussi les ar-
bres le hantaient. Souvent, depuis qu'il était à Paris, il se souvenait du
tremble-peuplier qu'il avait vu seul, au bord de l'eau ... Le chant si loin-
tain de son feuillage revenait en son souvenir. Il s'identifiait presque à
cet arbre.' (143; Animals haunted him, but so likewise did trees. Often
since he came to Paris, he remembered the little aspen he had seen,
standing alone, at the edge of the water … The plaint, so far away, of its
foliage returned to his memory. He almost identified himself with this
tree [152].) More than just a memory of nature, the image of the tree is a
mirror of the self, which calls up, through identification ('il s'identifiait'),
the question of identity. The configuration of the vision, a single tree set
against the vast surrounding forest, offers a possible interpretation of
Pierre's art and Quebec landscape painting in general, the individual
identity set against nature, from which it is inseparable. This human
meaning of the tree is also evident in Richard's Homme adossé à un arbre
(figure 8.1), in which the man and the tree are seen as one, and in Roy's
repeated comparisons of Pierre to a tree - such as 'Lui, tel un arbre mal-
mené par le vent, se tenait penché, tel un arbre qui s'écoute lui-même
chanter' (116; Like a tree buffeted by the wind, he held himself stooping
forward, like a tree listening to itself sing [123]) - which suggest not
only his roots, 'l'arbre de ses racines lointaines' (145; the tree, from its
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