Marcel Gingras (1921-2001)

Marcel Gingras - Artiste peintre

Freshly out of High School, Marcel Gingras left Sherbrooke in 1940 to enrol in the Architecture Department at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal, at least this is what he was supposed to do, according to his parents’ wishes. The then reigning atmosphere of liberty soon induced him to seek venues closer to his temperament, he decided to join the art classes in drawing, modelling, decorative arts and art history.

When Alfred Pellan, just returned from a long stay in France, joined the teaching staff of the ÉBAM in 1942, Marcel registered in his art class and was thunderstruck. Just imagine the 21 year-old young man coming into contact with the enthusiasm and exuberance of such a great artist. Drawing, colour, composition really exploded under the brush strokes. It must be noted that Pellan – as the great master that he was – knew how to stimulate his students by inviting them to work at his side in his own studio.



Vers Owl's Head - Oeuvre de Marcel Gingras
Vers Owl's Head - Oil on canvas - 1956

Such a freedom of expression acted as dynamite for Marcel Gingras' creative urge. Thereafter nothing else counted. Didactic classes lost their appeal. It must be said that Gingras was far from the spectacled highbrow scholar. He was instinctive, playful, spontaneous, and nothing counted more than creating and enjoying art.

Gingras knew two intensive periods of production, one from 1943 to 1963 and the other from 1982 to 1998. Between these periods, he fully dedicated himself to the management of the family business, a cabinet-making plant, and the design and production of high-class furniture for head offices and branches of Canadian Banks.

Often, when friends admired one of his paintings, he would simply give it to them. A large part of his 46-63 art production was disposed of in this matter. Only a few of those works have been traced. But thanks to the computer, there now exists a record comprised of catalogues, slides and photos of most of his works from 1983 on. To date, some 1,169 works have been recorded.

Vers Owl’s Head, a painting by Marcel Gingras, was chosen for the cover illustration of Histoire des Cantons de l’Est, a book published by l’Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture, IQRC, PUL, 1998. A popular subject of landscape painters in the 19th century, Mount Owl’s Head is captured by Gingras in a very modern formal approach, decidedly influenced by his master Pellan.

A thirty page catalogue was published in connection with the exhibition of 60 works Abstraction et figuration – La liberté dans l’oeuvre de Marcel Gingras, held at the Musée des beaux-arts de Sherbrooke from October 10 1998 to January 17 1999.

Huguette Gingras

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