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Fernand Leduc Painter of Light

May 14, 2014 to April 3, 2022

Fernand Leduc was a part of the great movements of abstract art in twentieth-century Québec, passing from an expressively gestural art to an almost mystic quest around colour with a stop for geometric rigour along the way. A gallery devoted to this great painter of light.

Fernand Leduc once said: “As an artist, I see myself as working in an Impressionist tradition of ‘painters of light.’” From the early gestural Automatism to the monochrome canvases of recent years, this quest for light through colour has always been at the root of Leduc’s work. It is a quest born of “inner necessity,” as he likes to call it. Leduc’s non-representational painting nevertheless reveals a landscape where a battle with the artistic material has taken place. It then conveys the light of a land or becomes a set of coloured signs that stand out against a transparent background. The shapes then form coloured masses and become geometrical. Finally, colour becomes the sole true path “towards the islands of light.” These “micro-chromes” are achieved by superimposing numerous thin layers of paint which explore this form of colour-light.


Fernand Leduc is born on 4 July in Viauville, a suburb of Montréal.

Leduc studies at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal.

Leduc meets Paul-Émile Borduas and stays at his home in Saint-Hilaire the following summer.

Alongside such figures as Charles Daudelin, Pierre Gauvreau, Thérèse Renaud, Françoise Sullivan and Jacques de Tonnancour, Fernand Leduc participates in the exhibition Les Sagittaires at the Dominion gallery in Montréal.

Leduc becomes a member of the Contemporary Arts Society (CAS).

In April, Leduc participates in the first exhibition of paintings by the group which would later be called the “Automatists,” on Amherst St. in Montréal.

Following the second Automatist exhibition on Sherbrooke St. in Montréal, Leduc sojourns in Paris with Thérèse Renaud, whom he marries on 27 May. Leduc participates in the exhibition Automatisme at the Galerie du Luxembourg and meets André Breton on two occasions.

The Refus global (Total Refusal) manifesto, which includes a text written by Leduc, “Qu’on le veuille ou non” (“Whether You Like It or Not”), is published.

Leduc joins Riopelle for the exhibition Leduc-Riopelle at the Raymond Creuze gallery in Paris. He sojourns at La-Flotte-en-Ré, in Charente, giving rise to the series Île de Ré (from his second sojourn in 1951). He then exhibits some sixty oils and gouaches at the Cercle universitaire de Montréal.

After a few years in Europe Leduc returns to Montréal, where his work is included in the exhibition Place des Artistes.

Leduc’s work can be seen in the exhibition La Matière chante. (The Artistic Matter Sings)

Very active, Leduc helps found and serves as president of the l’Association des artistes non figuratifs de Montréal, whose first exhibition is held at the Hélène de Champlain restaurant on Sainte Hélène’s island.

Fernand Leduc receives first prize, ex aequo, in the Concours artistiques de la province de Québec (decorative arts) for a tapestry entitled Rencontre totémique à Chilkat (Totemic Encounter at Chilkat), executed by Mariette Rousseau-Vermette from a sketch by Leduc.

Leduc returns to Paris, where he settles.

The Musée du Québec and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal organize and present the exhibition Fernand Leduc.

The National Gallery of Canada organizes a travelling exhibition of recent work, and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal organizes and presents a retrospective of his work.

Leduc wins the Canada Council for the Arts Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton award. The Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris prepares and presents the exhibition Microchromie gris puissance 6 (Microchrome Grey Power 6), which then travels to the Musée municipal in Brest.

The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and the Musée du Québec prepare and present the exhibition Fernand Leduc: dix ans de microchromies 1970/1980 (Fernand Leduc: Ten Years of Microchromes, 1970/1980).

From this date until 2004 Leduc spends his summers in Casano on the border of Liguria and Tuscany in Italy.

The Musée des beaux-arts de Chartres produces and presents the exhibition Fernand Leduc, from 1943 to 1985. Leduc has lived in the region since 1975.

Leduc receives the Paul-Émile Borduas award.

The Musée du Québec produces and presents the exhibition Fernand Leduc: Recent Works (1992-1996).

The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec produces and presents the exhibition Fernand Leduc: Libérer la lumière (Fernand Leduc: Liberating Light). Leduc then returns to and settles in Montréal.

Fernand Leduc dies in Montréal on 28 January.