Provocative, rebellious, brilliant; there is no lack of superlatives to describe the spirit of artist Pierre Gauvreau and the impact of his cultural legacy in Quebec. The oldest brother of the no-less-famous poet Claude Gauvreau, the painter would constantly reinvent himself throughout his career, becoming an author, scriptwriter, and television and film producer. In 1948, he signed the Refus global, the famous manifesto conceived among friends and published by Les éditions Mithra-Mythe, founded by photographer Maurice Perron. In the early 1960s, Gauvreau abandoned painting, only to return to it with renewed vigour in 1975: “The influence of the director’s directing [is] decisive … This reality originates in a mediatized vision of the real, channeled by the multiple screens juxtaposed like holes in a wall; light sources, or windows open to somewhere else, to different aspects of the world,” wrote Monique Brunet-Weinmann.
In Vert enzyme, from a body of work produced in 1978—the year he returned to painting—Pierre Gauvreau demonstrates complete mastery of his art form. Expressive and expansive brushstrokes, a bold and energized palette, and wet-on-wet execution: the painting conforms to a singular vision driven by frenzied yet supple gestures and clean lines. The exuberance of his strokes, like vital energy, is manifest, deliberate, unrepentant; the Automatistes’ every achievement is here, in piercing tones. Dominating, sombre, green masses form the painting’s central foundation, surrounded by a buzzing, quivering vegetal universe.