Borduas kept this painting with him all his life, and it was among the works found in his studio when he died. Like many of the artist's automatist paintings – those executed with no preconceived idea – it received its descriptive title once it was finished. The emphatic, spontaneous application of paint in the middle foreground is likely what suggested a joust, a combat fought on horseback. The reference to the Apaches, who were the first North American Native people to ride horses into battle (and were so often cast as the villains in Hollywood westerns), derives from the feather-like effect flanking the semicircular form of a rainbow, the supreme symbol of reconciliation. The motif of feathers, present in other paintings by Borduas, is particular to him and is not found in Surrealist painting, which favoured biomorphic motifs.
© Estate of Paul-Émile Borduas / SOCAN (2020)