Artwork by Rita Letendre,  Avril

Rita Letendre

oil on canvas
signed and dated 1958 lower right; signed, titled and dated on the reverse
12.5 x 17.5 ins ( 31.8 x 44.5 cms )

Sold for $14,375.00
Sale date: May 29th 2018

Galerie Simon Blais, Montreal
Mayberry Fine Art Gallery, Winnipeg/Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto
David Burnett and Marilyn Schiff, Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto, 1983, pages 71-74
Roald Nasgaard, Abstract Painting in Canada, Toronto, 2007, page 174
Roald Nasgaard and Ray Ellenwood, Automatiste Revolution: Montreal, 1941-1960, Toronto, 2009, page 79
As a follower of Paul-Émile Borduas and the Automatiste mandates, Rita Letendre’s early works from the late 1950s showcase an iconic impasto application of paint influenced by her fellow Automatiste painters from Montreal. A leader in the colourist movement within the canon of abstract painting in Canada, Letendre sought to explore the effects and limits of light and energy through non-figurative painting. The contrast between light and dark tones of pigment were paramount to the artist's work of the time. Rather than restrict the palette to white and black dualities, Letendre committed to using a variety of colour and tone to create energy emanating from the canvas.

“Avril” employs a decidedly fresh palette of chartreuse, coral and aqua blues combined with whites and blacks in a spring-like array of light energy. Emanating from the lower right corner of the composition is the heavier blacks and earth tones, balancing the upper left corner of white pigment. Letendre has used the palette knife to create generous strokes of equally weighted forms of thick pigment to cover the canvas plane. With a keen eye for movement, the artist has integrated a balanced pattern of colour and light within the tight image frame. There is an intimacy with the material that can be inferred through “Avril” with the artist’s skillful and intentional application of balanced colour.

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Rita Letendre
(1928) RCA

Rita Letendre was born in Drummondville, Quebec in 1928, and moved with her parents to Montreal in 1941. Beginning her career as an artist during the 1950s and early 1960s in Montreal, she participated in the Automatiste movement and painted with that intuitive strategy.  She would become a leading exponent of the abstract colourist movement. Over time, her work has evolved through various media, from brush to spatula, pastel, silkscreen, airbrush and back to pastel. Having participated in more than 65 solo exhibitions, her work encompasses monumental murals as large as 60 feet by 60 feet, down to the smallest silkscreen work.

In the words of the artist: “My new pictures seem more aggressive, more intense, to me. I feel like a space pushing against its barriers. Light and colour, and sometimes the absence of colour, have always been the key elements in my painting. With its different values, colour reflects the shades of life. But light, from the first shock of birth to the last breath of life - light is my life.”

Rita Letendre’s artwork is widely collected throughout North America by governments, public galleries and private organizations.  Her work has been exhibited internationally in major centres such as Paris, Rome, London, Tel Aviv, and Osaka.  In North America, she has shown her work in such important art hubs as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.