Alfred PELLAN 1906-1988

1978 Cultural Cultural

Born in Québec City in 1906, Alfred Pellan, owing to his tremendous talent and great gift, is incontrovertibly one of the most important painters in Québec art.

Mr. Pellan entered the École des Beaux-Arts de Québec at the age of 14. He graduated in 1926 and was the first painter to earn a grant from the Government of Québec. From 1926 to 1930,he continued his training in Paris, where he remained until 1940, returning home only for brief stays. The time spent in Paris was his true education. He presented his work in many exhibitions, leading him to show at the Galerie Jeanne Bûcher alongside Picasso, Derain, Dufy and Dali. A teacher from 1943 to 1952 in advanced painting courses at the École des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, he turned his classes into open workshops, encouraging freedom of expression for the artist and the thinker. He returned to Paris as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada from 1952 to 1955.

A man of great contrasts, Pellan was equally at home painting in large and small formats. He explored new materials, new themes and new worlds. In the 1960s, he created large murals, including the stained glass at the Place des Arts made with fused glass (1963) and a painting at the Winnipeg International airport. He developed an interest in theatre, designing and executing costumes, sets, accessories and make-up.

Pellan left an indelible mark on the history of art in Québec. His body of work, one of the richest and most complex the province has ever seen, has toured extensively. Pellan took part in some 100 collective exhibitions abroad. A number of retrospective exhibitions have been devoted to his work by museums and galleries that have acquired collections of his work.

The exceptional value of Alfred Pellan’s work has been recognized by many prizes and awards. He holds four honorary doctorates. In 1967, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. He was deemed “the most remarkable Montrealer of the past 20 years” (1978), and in 1983 he was awarded the Allied Arts Medal from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. In 1984, he received the Prix Paul-Émile Borduas from the Government of Québec “for his dynamic contribution to teaching in the arts, his battle for the freedoms that are indispensable to artistic expression and his works known both in Québec and abroad.” He has been a member of the academy of Great Montrealers since 1978.

Source: Ordre national du Québec

Photo Credit : Library and Archives Canada / Ronny Jaques