Canada's Abstract Art Explosion During The Automatiste Period
Paul-Èmile Borduas revolutionized the art scene in Canada during the beginning of the 1940s by introducing the concept of abstract expressionism. Originating in Quebec, this marked the first appearance of abstract art in the country. The movement heavily drew inspiration from the literature at the time which was derived mainly of train-of-thought explorations. Applying the fluidity of unfiltered writing to painting, the Automatiste transcended the boundaries of conventional artwork and ushered a period of abstract expressionism.
This rebellious abstract art movement did not consist solely of abstract paintings; all forms of art were incorporated, including poetry and choreography. The underlying theme of such abstract expressionism was the ability to adventure within the sub-conscious realm freely. The result was a new form of abstract art that yielded no angular confines. Instead it relied only on loose organic lines to guide the eye around other-worldly representations of typically mundane human objects. The winding twists always convey a sense of spiritual anarchy.
Abstract paintings and abstract expressionism in general, were intertwined with an elaborate anti-religious coup. The manifesto of abstract art at the time was published by this group in 1948 and was entitled “Total Refusal”. It served as a complete rejection of all institutions that serve to confine and restrict the free flow of though and expression. Abstract paintings specifically witnessed the most pivotal transformations of the time and could not afford to be stamped out by Quebec's religious authorities.
The abstract paintings were named for their unifying surrealist traits by Tancrè de Marcil Jr., who coined the term Automatiste to describe the style while reviewing their second showing in Montreal. Among the abstract paintings viewed was “Green Abstraction” by Borduas. This piece was a signature demonstration of the abstract expressionism movement, having been painting in oil during 1941. The style of this individual piece of art was designed to parallel the cerebral poetry of Andrè Breton.
The Automatiste artists spent two decades ostentatiously challenging the religious government of Quebec until the death of Borduas.
The group disbanded as suddenly as they appeared; however, their abstract paintings lived on infamously. Abstract expressionism has endured the years and is a primary influence on current era Post-Modernism. Abstract art since has attempted to mimic the wavy fluidity of this historical scene, but few accomplish the task with originality. The Automatiste movement was the most original period of abstract art Canada had ever seen.