Whether in dance, painting or sculpture, I always wanted to express one single thing, but through different means. What mattered was being able to integrate a certain amount of intuition into it.
– Françoise Sullivan, Être artiste
A strong counterpoint to the Océans series from the previous year, this painting, titled Noir (2006), features the same fieriness of Sullivan’s polyptych Rouge nos. 3, 5, 6, 2 (1997) in its background, and the same artistry as her Hommages series (2013). These variations circumvent strict binarism and monochromy in favour of regular and discreet brushstrokes “that bypass the expressionism of intense gestures,” Mark Lanctôt writes. “Instead, its regularity, and the flatness it creates, convey a sense of corporeality. We are confronted not so much by a deep optical field as by a sequence of surface marks that create their own presence.” Moreover, the brownish-black colour is blended directly over the orangey-red background but does not try to conceal it, as evidenced by the reddish hues that regularly peek through the dark mass. Rather, it seems to have emerged in response to it, like a voice and its echo.
Françoise Sullivan studied at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal from 1940 to 1945. Invited to participate in Les Sagittaires exhibition of the Society of Contemporary Arts in 1943, Sullivan, along with other avant-garde artists—including Pierre Gauvreau and Paul-Émile Borduas—formed the Automatistes, which published the Refus Global in 1948. Sullivan continually reinvented herself for a large part of her career, as she transitioned from sculpture to contemporary dance and conceptual art. Nostalgic for working with materials, Sullivan returned to painting in the 1980s. Her works are permeated with movement and sensuality stemming from her past as a choreographer. In the 1990s, Sullivan refined the pictorial composition of her paintings, in which chromatic vibrations and the quality of the textures convey the intimate dialogue between the artist and her work.