The purchase of a large roll of raw canvas was a symbolic gesture for Pierre Gauvreau, who, after a decade away from painting, returned to his studio in full force in the late 1970s. It was on this canvas that he created Le cheval de Troie est au vert in the summer of 1978. The painting was, in his words, “as long as an NFB production.” Gauvreau wound up leaving the National Film Board of Canada, where he worked as the director of French productions, to devote himself to directing and resume his painting practice. His widow, Janine Carreau, talked about this painting in a monograph on Gauvreau published by Galerie Michel-Ange: “In 1984, his art dealer in Toronto, Simon Dresdnere, sawed its stretcher-bar, in order to get the work into the elevator, [so] that he could present it to a firm, which eventually acquired Le cheval de Troie est au vert (The [Trojan] Horse is on green pastures).”
The work’s spectacular dimensions are in keeping with its title, which was inspired by the legendary story of Aeneas and the Trojan War from Book II of Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid. To accommodate the rather grand subject, the painting stretches to a monumental four metres wide. The work demonstrates Gauvreau’s skills through this new vision, firmly characterized by Surrealism—“tame Automatism”—while taking into account recent breakthroughs and trends from the American art scene. The motifs and graphic elements are examples of his distinctive writing, present in several works from the same period.