During the winter of 1989, Marcel Barbeau began a new body of work based on collages he had made the preceding fall and summer. The pictorial areas were larger than his earlier minimalist compositions from 1988. However, similar forms re-appeared, and were enlarged freehand on large sheets of kraft paper, then cut out and used as stencils for his large-format paintings. Barbeau often freely modified his palette and the work’s spatial organisation, leaving only a hint of the initial form and composition. If, a year earlier, the artist had sought to use complementary colours, he now broke free from this rule to create unexpected, even bold chromatic associations.
Such is the case with Guyanoga, which depicts a strange, orange polymorphous shape against a green background draped in white. The orange shape has a curved back, topped by an upended, irregular trapezium reminiscent of his optical paintings from 1965. The small pink polygon, placed obliquely between the green and the orange, highlights the contrast of complementary tones through the sharpness of its colours. This contrast is subdued somewhat by the orange plane into which the pink form seems to melt. The strongest polarity is between the black and white forms. As with the previous trio of colours, the disproportionate size of the opposing forms creates a sustained tension that pulls toward the lower right corner of the work, the focal point of the composition, boldly and somewhat humorously anchoring it into place.
Reproduced on the cover of the monograph Marcel Barbeau. Le regard en fugue, this painting was exhibited for the first time at the Galerie d’art Michel-Ange in Montreal, on the occasion of the catalogue’s launch there and at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The painting sold on opening night, and has not been exhibited since.