1931 - 1999
Ulysse Comptois’s artistic journey closely intertwines with the trajectory of artistic modernity in Canada in the twentieth century. He was 17 at the time Paul-Émile Borduas and the Automatists published the incendiary Refus global. He soon left his birthplace in rural Quebec to enroll at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal. He attended class for only one year, breaking with classical tradition at a very early stage in his career by choosing instead to pursue his artistic education as an autodidact. He became acquainted with the Automatists and was invited to participate in two shows along with other members of the group: La matière chante in 1954 and Espace 55 in 1955. He was also in contact with the Plasticiens, whose views on painting enduringly transformed his own pictorial language. Throughout his numerous travels in the 1960s, he was exposed to a broad variety of contemporary artistic practices, developing the singular characteristics of his artistic vision.
With a body of work that has elements of both Abstract Expressionism and geometrical formalism, painting and sculpture, Comtois refuses conventions, defies artistic genre and challenges disciplinary boundaries. Decidedly modern, surprising and unusual, his art is playful yet intellectual.
Comtois represented Canada at the 1968 Venice Biennale along with Guido Molinari. His works are part of the most prestigious national private, public and corporate collections. His art has been the subject of important museum exhibitions. This exceptional selection of pieces offered by Heffel includes works from the 1960s to the 1990s, and is from the collection of the artist.