Private Collection, Quebec
Lise Gervais was a teenager in Quebec when the Refus Global, the Automatistes manifesto, was released in Montreal in August 1948. Their work, influenced by André Breton, Surrealist techniques and psychoanalysis, was the dominant form of artistic expression in Quebec from the mid-1940s until 1954, while Gervais was attending school and pursuing art studies at the École des beaux-arts de Montreal from 1953-4. A follower of the Automatistes, Gervais’ approach emphasized the materiality of the paint itself, which she applied in thick layers with a palette knife. Using this technique, with virtually no mixing of pigment, she was able to maintain the brilliance of pure colour, as exemplified by Composition.