(1928 - Present)
Rita Letendre is a Canadian painter, muralist and printmaker closely associated with the Automatistes.
A student at l'Ecole des Beaux-Art, Letendre’s viewing of the 1950 "L’Exposition des Rebelles" (which was largely condemned by her professors) introduced her to the circle of Borduas and the Automatistes, and inevitably inspired her to leave art school. In that Borduas (the main force behind the libertarian manifesto Refus Global) was the greatest influence to Rita’s life as a painter, in line with the Automatiste manifesto, by 1951 Rita had abandoned figuration and threw herself wholeheartedly into painting in abstraction.
Throughout her career, Letendre was also inspired by the Plasticiens, who espoused the philosophies of Piet Mondrian and the virtues of geometric form in art, as well as the ideas of Zen and Confucius, which began to translate into her paintings characterized by lines and strokes in black and white. She was also struck by the work of the Abstract Expressionists in New York, which affected her gestural quality and usage of heavy impasto with a palette knife or spatula. In the 1960s, her works became considerably simplified, more focused on geometric shapes and movement, and marked by her exploration of printmaking. Eventually, in the 1970s, her airbrushing technique emerged, which Letendre is very highly regarded for today.
Rita Letendre is an officer of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Governor General’s Award. At 87, Rita has continued to produce and show works created as recently as 2014.