As I listened to the radio morning news yesterday, I felt a sudden jolt of shock, and sadness to hear announced, that Canadian artist, Alex Colville had died. His death caused me to think why I would be surprised, as he was 92 years of age. But I realize in our death denying culture, human beings are often tempted to engage in a kind of magical thinking. We expect some how, some way, that those we love, will live forever, and often we do not want to face our own death. Even if we do not deny the reality of death, it is always difficult to accept. We all experience loss differently, and cope with varying degrees of acceptance, and ways of grieving, often being unprepared.
It is my belief that Alex Colville had a wise insight into knowing how to seize, and appreciate life with integrity, in the present moment, that seems to resonate through his painting, with himself as observer.
Listening to him in interviews, and what has been said about him by others who knew him, one gets the impression he was a gentle, humble, and very grateful man, for everything in his life, particularly his family, and his life as a artist.
In an interview Alex Colville gave CBC Radio in 2005, at the age of eighty three, his philosophy, and unassuming nature is evident. As well a more indepth interview was the CBC Sunday Edition, by Michael Enright.
The 1987 issue of Canadian Art magazine from the archives, there is a very comprehensive, well written article, by Hans Werner, who gave a wonderful poignant glimpse into understanding Alex Colville, the artist, and the man. There is much wisdom to be gleaned form this gifted, and insightful Canadian painter.
I am proud, and grateful to know Alex Colville and I share the same Alma Mater, part of the Mount Allison University family, and I am very privileged to have been a Bachelor of Fine Art student, involved in it's wonderful Fine Art Department, in Sackville, New Brunswick. I am sorry I never had the privilege of meeting such a mentor, and benevolent human being, that has left a great legacy, who had the courage to truly be a free man.