From an early age Pellan doodle on his schoolwork and after being granted a scholarship studied in Paris from 1926 to 1940.
Returning to Canada and settling in Montréal in 1940 his work was critically successfull but was not popular among buyers at the time who preferred "traditional" art.
His work turned increasingly surrealistic and he co-signed the Le Prisme d'Yeux (Prism of Eyes), a manifesto written by Jacques de Tonnancour that advocated art free of ideology.
Awarded a scholarship from the Royal Society of Canada he lived in Paris from 1952 to 1955 where his work became the first Canadian artist to have a solo exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art.
From 1955 to his death in 1988 he lived in Laval. During this period his art became more widely accepted by both experts and the general public.