In Borduas’s early abstract paintings, objects more or less float—or are suspended, as in Leeward of the Island—in space above a flatly painted background. To emphasize their shape and contrast them against what was below, Borduas used a palette knife. This gives the objects a “mineral” character. Cliffs, the mountain faces at Saint-Hilaire, rocks, sea ice, even glacial features are reflected in his titles. This icon of the Automatiste movement made Borduas a household name in Canada.
La révolution abstraite de Paul-Émile Borduas
Paul-Émile Borduas, Leeward of the Island or 1.47 (Sous le vent de l’île ou 1.47), 1947
Oil on canvas, 114.7 x 147.7 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa