Tag Archives: alex colville

Stocking Stuffer: Alex Colville at the AGO

I checked out Alex Colville at the AGO when it opened.  It was transformational, eclectic, traditional and full of echoes of why I am proud to be Canadian.  Look here for my full review:  https://thirtyfourflavours.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/alex-colville-at-the-art-gallery-of-ontario-august-23-january-4-2014/

After my second visit to see the Alex Colville exhibit at the AGO last week I was reminded of how much I love his art.  Upon entering the Colville exhibit I passed a man carrying the ‘Colville’ Art Book by Andrew Hunter that I have been meaning to pick up.

Now, one of the years most significant and anticipated Art Books, co-published by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and Goose Lane Editions, the book, entitled simply Colville, explores the man, the place and the imagery.

More than 100 of Colville’s paintings and studies, including works which have rarely been publicly shown or reproduced, have been assembled for the book, some with thematic pairings of work from notable figures in popular contemporary culture including Sarah Polley, Stanley Kubrick, Wes Anderson, the Coen Brothers, and Alice Munro. This definitive look at Colville’s work and influence is complemented by candid portraits of Alex Colville with his wife and life-long model, Rhoda, providing a rare glimpse into his personal life.

Written and edited by Andrew Hunter, the AGO’s Frederik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art, Colville accompanies the largest exhibition ever of the visionary artist’s work. The exhibition will feature more than 150 paintings from museums and private collections around the world.

Alex Colville, himself, said, “As a good realist, I have to reinvent the world.” Colville sheds light not only on the world as Colville portrayed it, but also on the way his vision has reinvented the cultural landscape.

Pick up some passes to the Alex Colville at the AGO as a stocking stuffer for mates or family before it closes in January 2015 plus pick up the ‘Colville’ Art Book from Andrew Hunter for yourself.


Alex Colville at the Art Gallery of Ontario (August 23 – January 4, 2015)

Nearly 100 works by Canadian icon Alex Colville (1920-2013) will be showcased at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) commencing this weekend, marking the largest exhibition of the late artist’s work to date. Curated by Andrew Hunter, the AGO’s curator of Canadian art, the exhibition will honour Colville’s legacy and explore the continuing relevance of his work through thematic pairings with the work of several prominent popular culture figures from film, literature and music. Opening August 23, 2014, the exhibition will run to January 4, 2015.

Known for painting decidedly personal subject matter, Colville’s painstakingly precise images depict an elusive tension, capturing moments perpetually on the edge of change and the unknown, often imbued with a deep sense of danger.

“Alex Colville’s exacting methods and often uneasy scenes created an entirely new genre of Canadian art. His death has left a void in our cultural landscape, but his work continues to have a profound impact on artists here and abroad,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, director and CEO of the AGO. “We look forward to exploring this vibrant legacy with the help of several creative thinkers, some of whom have been directly inspired by his vision.”

Featuring works assembled from museums and private collections nationwide, many of which have never been shown publicly, the exhibition spans Colville’s entire career, including iconic paintings such as:

 Horse and Train, 1953;

 To Prince Edward Island, 1965;

 Woman in Bathtub, 1973; and

 Target Pistol and Man, 1980.

Born in Toronto in 1920, Colville was a painter, printmaker and veteran who drew his inspiration from the world around him, transforming the seemingly mundane figures and events of everyday life into archetypes of the modern condition. He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1982 and won a Governor General’s Visual and Media Arts Award in 2003. The AGO has 89 works by Colville in its collection, including seven paintings currently on display. The Gallery last presented a retrospective of his works in 1983.

Review:  Taking in the Alex Colville exhibit was indeed an intellectual and emotional journey. I couldn’t help but feel comfortable and safe in the exhibition space as I took in the beauty and intensity within the layers of paint.  Even though I just met these paintings – we could be family.

After listening to Ann Kitz, Colville’s daughter, give a moving speech dedicated to her father we were forewarned that we were in for a treat before being ushered in to see her  father’s formidable works.

Being greeted with Wes Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ film clip as an ode to Colville’s ‘To Prince Edward Island’  as we entered the exhibition space immediately put a smile on my face.  Indeed Colville in all of his creative complexity and endearment truly captured the heart of Anderson’s.  Anderson’s tight close ups, pondering actors, cinematic moments in pursuit to dwell upon and colour esthetics ached of Colville.

I remember seeing Colville’s quintessential Canadian works as a teen a marvelling at how close the paintings were to an actual photograph.  Today I couldn’t help but feel nostalgia of those times long ago when I initially saw these paintings in art books and magazines.

Themes of family, love, grief, an underlying sinister element, the complexity of relationships, the importance of animals in our lives and how being a war hero is never far from one’s mind if one partook and survived a tour provided for a cohesive and deeply moving exhibit.

Colville was not making a portrait about the Maritimes but instead about family, his neighbours and small town life.  The realism in his paintings makes them relatable and also easy to digest into our own specific living no matter where we live in Canada.  We can’t help but think ‘I know someone like that’ or ‘I’ve seen a similar portrait everyday in my life’.

It’s no wonder the likes of Sarah Polley and the Coen Brothers were also inspired by the deeply personal but not private tones in Colville’s paintings (‘Couple on Beach’ and ‘Target Pistol and Man’).   These paintings are indeed emotionally and gravely punctuated in Polley’s and the Coen’s films ‘Stories We Tell’ and ‘No Country for Old Men’.  Even Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ has Colville’s work interspersed within the film as an offering of artistic discomfort.

I truly appreciated that throughout Colville’s work there was also an air of mystery in terms of what we were viewing as a guest.  There was movement in progress towards something or someone that only the participant in the painting was privy to.  It was a nice reminder that sometimes in life it is worth just observing as oppose to feeling the need to participate in every moment.

If you are Canadian – the Alex Colville exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario is a must see.

Experience Alex Colville online at www.welcometocolville.ca