I’ve returned! 2015 is here! Who’s ready??
I decided today to feature an artist whose amazing work I was able to see over the holidays while visiting home in Toronto at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Alex Colville was always an artist whose name I’d hear, and whose work I’d see many times during my studies at NSCAD. You tend to come across his work often living in the Maritimes in various forms as he spent the majority of his life living and working as an artist in Nova Scotia.
Colville was born in Toronto, moved to St. Catherines, and then to Amherst Nova Scotia in 1929 where he graduate from Mount St. Allison University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He enlisted in the Canadian Army, and eventually was ranked lieutenant, and he later was made a war artist.
After the war he became a teacher at Mount St. Allison University in New Brunswick, where he taught for seventeen years. He left teaching to devote himself completely to his art practice of painting and printmaking.
To be honest Colville’s work had never really caught my eye before, maybe it was the subject matter, painting the everyday that just didn’t interest me, I’m not entirely sure. However when I saw his work in person and had time to really consider what I was saw, I was completely blown away. Many of his works are scenes from his own life, snapshots of his family life, capturing the beauty of what may be normally considered mundane. He has many, many works that include his wife, and his dogs, and his children.
He had a very particular love for animals. He understood them to be completely innocent and pure. The painting above shows his child and their family dog. The contrast between the dog, who stands on guard watching out for the child who stands so close to a creature most would feel a little uneasy right next to. There is a tension present in the work. Although the dog does not appear to be aggressive you can tell from his eyes that he is protective, and a little intimidating!
I was absolutely blown away by all of his paintings that depict the ocean. He is able to capture the vastness with paint and it’s almost as though you are right there in the water when you stand in front of the paintings. The work above was one of my favorites from the show. I really connected with the lone swimmer, strong and brave cutting through the waves.
Alex Colville passed away in 2013, at the age of 93 in his family home in Wolfville. He left behind a legacy, hundreds of gorgeous works of art that will be admired for generations to come that remind us how beautiful each moment can be if we are willing to take the time to stop and look. It’s easy to move through life so quickly and carelessly, now more than ever with so many obligations and distractions. Colville’s work shows us the beauty that surrounds our everyday, but it can only be seen by those who stop to notice. Basically, get your head out of your phone and take a look around you. What’s most important lies right in front of you.