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Big trees  

This renewal of landscape painting, brilliantly portrayed in Fortin’s watercolours, manifests itself even more from 1923 to 1928 when his great elms with their detailed foliage surge forth from the canvas.

The huge trees’ size is even more exaggerated by the presence of minuscule people only roughly drawn, and appearing in the shady paths, to create an effect of movement.

Under the foliage of the trees that unfolds like a fan, it is common to distinguish a hay wagon pulled by a horse.

In a way, these hay wagons have become one of the distinctive motifs of the artist.

sous les ormes
c.1925
99 cm x 76 cm

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Black  manner

In 1934, Fortin returns from a trip to France with his head brimming with ideas. In fact, at this time, the technique known as «the black manner» was born from Fortin’s mind.

«The method of painting on a black base is a technique which brings out a hundred percent of the colour values. It’s the relationship between shade and light in a landscape. When you put a sombre green on the black, it becomes even more darker, it’s more beautiful. This technique is better for cloudy days rather than sunny ones.» Marc-Aurèle Fortin

Anyone who watched the artist painting on a black base is dumbfounded by the swiftness with which he applied his paint. A veritable whirlpool of bright colours descends on the canvas, giving the impression of being so abstract at the start that it is difficult to guess what subject they will create.

Then little by little, in these swift sessions, forms take shape signalling the embryo of a landscape. Everything is done by instinct

château-richer
c.1947
56 cm x 71 cm

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Grey manner

In 1936, during his «black manner» period, Fortin begins painting on a grey base for entirely different reasons.

«I paint on a grey base to reproduce the warm atmosphere of Québec skies and differentiate them from those of Holland where all is greyness.» Marc-Aurèle Fortin

Throughout his career, Fortin never mixes colours on his palette. He only ever uses pure colour and he buys the finest French oil paints. But, of all the nuances of grey available from the tube, he is never capable of adequately rendering the very particular colour of our skies.

The paintings done in the “grey manner” are considered among the artist’s finest creations and, it is in these works that Fortin is at its best to reproduce his country’s atmosphere.

vieille maison grise
c.1948
96 cm x 120 cm

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