Le Petit Avion, 1945
oil, sand on canvas
91.3 x 155.3 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with the assistance of The Winnipeg Foundation and the Canada Council
Upon returning from France in 1940 where he was studying, Alfred Pellan became the first artist to introduce Surrealist ideas to Canadian painting. The Surrealists believed that creativity required the liberation of a facet of the mind that was inaccessible by regular consciousness. Such ideas grated on the conservative values of post-World War II Quebec, but provided an important early influence to artists who would form the Automatists in 1942. In this scene of two figures watching an airplane glide over a flat landscape, Pellan uses simplified fantastical shapes and bright concentrated colours suggestive of children’s drawings. He was interested in reflecting his surroundings, not as his eye saw them, but rather as his subconscious mind experienced them.