On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the publication, in 1948, of the Refus global manifesto, the Canadian Cultural Centre pays tribute to the “Automatists”.
The product of meetings and dialogues between its author, the painter Paul-Émile Borduas, and a group of his friends and intellectuals, the Refus Global was first and foremost an outcry against the obscurantism and academicism of the institutions in power. Motivated by a strong desire for social and cultural transformation, the Automatists claimed the spontaneity of non-figurative art which, according to them, is the only way to give free rein to the unconscious and creative passions. Initially inspired by André Breton’s surrealism and automatic writing, this artistic movement of revolutionary spirit had many contacts with Paris and then New York and, in Canada, the publication of his manifesto caused a scandal.
The exhibition Refus Global (1948): le manifeste de mouvement automatiste brings together some thirty particularly significant works from the early years of the Automatist movement, some of which come from the largest Canadian public collections. Curated by guest curators François-Marc Gagnon and René Viau, it includes works by Marcel Barbeau, Paul-Émile Borduas, Roger Fauteux, Marcelle Ferron, Pierre Gauvreau, Fernand Leduc, Jean-Paul Mousseau, Maurice Perron, Jean-Paul Riopelle and Françoise Sullivan.
Refus Global (1948): le manifeste de mouvement automatiste was created from the exhibition The Automatists – produced and circulated by Canada Post and the Canadian Postal Museum – on the occasion of the launch of seven commemorative stamps reproducing a work by seven painters of the movement. These painters, along with poets, dancers, writers, designers, photographers and actors, Magdeleine Arbour, Bruno Cormier, Claude Gauvreau, Muriel Guilbault, Thérèse Renaud, Louise Renaud, Maurice Perron, Françoise Riopelle and Françoise Sullivan, were the co-signatories of the manifesto written by Borduas.
With the subject Les automatistes et Paris, a colloquium will be held on October 21 and 22 under the scientific direction of Lise Gauvin, director of the Montreal journal Études Françaises. A series of multi-disciplinary events will complete this panorama of the group’s activities.
The exhibition Refus Global (1948): le manifeste de mouvement automatiste is accompanied by a catalogue (132 pages, colour reproductions) published in the Esplanade collection of the Cultural Services of the Canadian Embassy in Paris.