One of the sixteen signatories to the Refus Global (1948), Marcelle Ferron was a leading figure among the Automatistes. With a long and prolific career in Canada and abroad, she succeeded in “establishing a distinctive artistic identity based on both resistance and rootedness,” as Louise Vigneault observed in the exhibition catalogue for “Marcelle Ferron, une rétrospective,” presented at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal in 2000.
In 1961, Ferron was a member of the Canadian delegation to the 6th São Paulo Biennial in Brazil, alongside Harold Town, Ronald Bloore, Alex Colville, and Gordon Smith, under the auspices of curator Charles Comfort, then director of the National Gallery of Canada. Ferron exhibited six works, including Ronqueralles (1960), which, due to its size and indisputable pictorial qualities, embodied the very essence of the body of work presented. In addition, the artist distinguished herself— not only from her colleagues but also from the hundreds of visual artists representing more than fifty countries— by being awarded the Biennial’s prestigious silver medal. This honour, conferred for the first time on a female Canadian painter, propelled her to the forefront of abstract painting on the international scene.
Ronqueralles was created during a period when Ferron was demonstrating great assurance in her use of space and uncompromising approach to gesture, which continued to evolve and grow in character, mastery, and sensitivity. In the early 1960s, the bold sweeps of her spatula took on fresh energy and unprecedented strength, juxtaposing masses of textured pigments, counterpoint effects both dark and luminous, in colours dominated by yellows, reds, and blues, as well as thicker impasto, all of which collide, interact, and separate almost organically. White patches glide skilfully into “dense structures that, at first, had essentially hidden the background, but now make way for a complex interplay of planes that fill the space,” as Réal Lussier, curator of the retrospective devoted to Ferron at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, observed.
Throughout the painting, a vast criss-crossing of dynamic planes is penetrated by cascading or gently sliding white masses, lending the composition impetus and a particularly well-balanced sense of flow. As a consequence, light infuses every detail of this sumptuous painting, contributing to its harmony. It exudes a certain joie de vivre, an infinite radiance full of energy, “surprisingly close to nature, as though it were born of the cycle of the seasons, had absorbed the summer light and the smell of autumn, and had been buffeted by the wind,” as art historian Herta Wescher described it.
Ferron’s painting, created in 1960, is of outstanding importance to her career. Several other works from this period are also particularly significant, including São Paulo (130.5 × 195 cm), in the Power Corporation of Canada collection; Chande loup (100 × 81 cm), in the collection of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; and the large-scale Sans titre (190 × 240 cm), which was part of the Peter Stuyvesant collection for nearly fifty years, until 2010, and fetched a record price for the artist’s work at auction.
The availability of Ronqueralles on the market offers a unique opportunity to acquire a work worthy of the greatest collections, given its undeniable historical and pictorial value.