"I have no pre-conceived idea. Facing the blank paper with my mind empty of any literary ideas, I obey whatever impulse comes first. If I have the idea of applying the charcoal in the middle of the paper or at one of the sides, I do so without hesitation, and so I go on." Paul-Émile Borduas, 1942

Paul-Émile Borduas has had an undeniably profound influence on the development of the arts in Quebec. Born in Saint-Hilaire, QC, Borduas first studied with Ozias Leduc, who took him on as an apprentice in some of his projects to decorate churches in Sherbrooke, Halifax and Montreal. He then studied at the School of Fine Arts in Montreal from 1923 to 1927 and at the Ateliers d’Art Sacré in Paris from 1928 to 1930. Back in Montreal, during the economic crisis, Borduas had to fall back on teaching for a living. He got a job at the École du Meuble in 1937 and discovered automatism, inspired by advice that Leonardo da Vinci had given to his students. In 1942, he exhibited 45 surrealist works at the Salle de l’Hermitage in Montreal, which also included several "Automatiste" works. Les Automatistes were so called because they were influenced by Surrealism and its theory of automatism. Borduas' art influenced many young artists, making him the leader of the Automatiste Movement. In 1948, he published, along with several other artists, the manifesto, Refus global, in which he denounced the conservative ideology of the preservation of past values, the Catholic Church and the right-wing nationalism of Maurice Duplessis. This caused him to lose his job at the École du Meuble, after which he was forced to sell his house in Saint-Hilaire and exile himself in New York, where artistic research could be expressed more freely. In 1955, Borduas left for Paris in the hope of receiving more recognition in France, but unfortunately did not find the success he had hoped for. He died of a heart attack in Paris on February 21st, 1960, leaving behind an outstanding body of work. His influence on the development of art in Quebec is undeniable.

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