MARC-AURÈLE FORTIN, A.R.C.A.
Private Collection, Quebec
Marc-Aurèle Fortin (1888-1970) maintained the idea of painting on black or grey backgrounds came to him while in Europe, ca. 1935. This work, which has been dated circa 1942, exploits the dark tint of its paper support, which serves as a dramatic foil to this rich composition. The barques - masted sailing vessels - are arranged as much to evoke a plein air still life as accessories to the seascape beyond. Barques have an ancient lineage and were the work horses of the lower St. Lawrence during the settlement of New France. They continued to be in use certainly during Fortin's lifetime and contemporaneously all over the world.
While Fortin's work is normally associated with an expressive use of colour, in Les Barques the colour is as much representational, if not somewhat restrained. The artist seems intent on giving the sea and sky equal billing in this production. In so many of Fortin's pictures, the sky dominates and here it also sets an awesome tone. The grey-black gathering storm clouds give license to the captains of these boats to take shelter. Beached, or moored a-tilt in shallow water, the triumvirate of rotund vessels are imbued with an anthropomorphism that persuades us that Les Barques have earned the respite these shores offer.