On view until April 10, 2016
Rita Letendre (born 1928) is a Quebec artists of Abenaki heritage. Her distinctive approach to colour field abstraction grew out of avant-garde painting of the 1950s and 1960s in Quebec — the same era of revolt that inspired artists such as Françoise Sullivan. After a decade of experimentation, she rejected both the spontaneous invention of Autmatisme and the rigid formality of the Plasticiens, choosing instead to stage powerful collisions between blocks of solid colour. By the end of the 1960s, these collisions had taken the form of hard-edged arrows of thinly painted colour that converged sharply at the edges of the canvas. With the addition of an air gun to her painter's arsenal in 1976, and an increasing emphasis on horizontality, Letendre's work took a subtle turn towards landscape. In the 1980s, she eliminated hard edge elements altogether in favour of quiet modulations of colour. At the start of the 1990s, her work changed again with a return to the bold painterly brushstrokes of her earlier production.
This permanent collection exhibition traces Letendre's development with the help of a recent donation by the artist, featuring four major paintings spanning nearly four decades. These paintings join three works already in the collection. Letendre's work has been recognized with a major retrospective a the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (2003) and numerous awards, including Officer of the Order of Canada (2005) and the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts (2010).
Image: Rita Letendre, Zacatlan, 1977, acrylic on canvas, 167.6 x 213.4 cm, Collection of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, gift of the artist