Mer glauque (1960), a painting that comes from Marcella Maltais’s post-Automatist period, embodies the spirit of her studio notes (Éditions du Beffroi, 1991), which shed light on both her painting and her artistic approach: “Every colour must be right in its light value. The flat space of the painted surface becomes ‘deep’ only by the play of light sliding along the forms, making them visible, uniting them in the luminous space.” Indeed, the rich, layered impasto of this composition follows an irrepressible tectonic movement from left to right from which luminous highlights emerge. The whitish material surging from the lower edge of the painting ushers a stream of light that echoes yet another of Maltais’s notes, equally true and perceptive: “Light: the dissolution of solid bodies into glorious bodies.”
Born in Chicoutimi in 1933, Marcelle Maltais studied painting under Jean Paul Lemieux and Jean Dallaire in 1949, at the École des beaux-arts de Québec. In 1955, she presented her first solo exhibition at the Palais Montcalm in Quebec City and won the first prize in painting at Quebec’s Exposition Provincial. She was honoured with an exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1957, before briefly relocating to Paris the following year. In 1959, Maltais was awarded first prize at the Salon de la jeune peinture (young painters’ salon) in Montreal. She died in Quebec City in 2018.