oil on canvas
signed and dated '56; also signed, dated '58 and inscribed "retouché" verso
39.25 ins x 24 ins; 99.7 cms x 61 cms
René Marcil’s career began as a fashion illustrator, first for Morgan’s and Eaton’s department stores in Montreal, then Lord and Taylor in New York. In the early 1950s Marcil moved to France where he began supplementing his figure drawing practice with abstracted compositions. The paintings produced during this time demonstrate a continuation of the dynamism and elegance that characterised his fashion illustrations and marked a significant turning point towards the use of bold, brilliant colour that would be further explored in his late-career portrait pieces.
This work, completed in the early days of what would be an extended period living in Europe, exemplifies Marcil’s willingness to experiment with his practice. Here he adopts the established visual language of Fauvism, Cubism, and Surrealism. Blues dominate the canvas, illuminated by flashing facets of orange, green, and pink. Bold, heavy black strokes provide an architectural structure to the scene: this could be an interior, or a pure abstract exploration of colour. Expressionistic and lyrical, Marcil’s long career was characterised by confident draftsmanship and a unique evolved style.
Private Collection, Toronto