Thursday, January 27, 2011

“I do have a fear of chaos and a strong sense of the fragility of civilization.” - Alex Colville

In one of my recent Canadian Art History classes, we were covering the work of Alex Colville, and we were asked if we liked his work. One of the class members was very emphatic that they did not like his work stating it was even rather misogynistic and another adjective that was very critical that has escaped my memory right now. I will have to refer to my Professor and ask her, and update this blog entry in order to address the criticism. I expressed that I loved his work as a matter of fact I greatly admire it and am thrilled to know that he once studied at Mount Allison and taught painting. It makes me wish I had known him I would love to have been a student of his.

I may be mistaken but I think some subjectively and reactionarily judge artists like Alex Colville based on misconception or misunderstanding or simply because they don't think the tradition of what has gone before within the art world is important to their own practice.
I am very interested in egg tempera, which is the medium Alex Colville often worked with to produce his paintings. I remember the first time I actually saw one of his paintings, Seven Crows, at the Owens Gallery. I was awe stuck, because it was a scene very Maritime to me, where I live, in the place I love . I felt it was almost a spiritual experience. Perhaps this was the magical realism I was experiencing, the term that is often used to describe Colville quality of style. There is a timelessness and atmospheric essence in this painting, and in others I have seen, simultaneously one is acutely aware that time and life pass. All the more reason to savor the present moment and to be live life in a mindful way.

Egg Tempera - a slow process - Alex Colville Transcript
I wanted to be able to work for a long time on one image, that I couldn’t achieve the kind of thing I hoped to achieve in a short time. This is a kind of limitation in the …you know a great Chinese painter of the great period does something and it’s done, it may be done in a matter of minutes actually and it may, he may do, you know, thirty of them and one of them seems perfect. It’s a kind of gestural thing, it’s more in a sense like dancing or something in a way. My stuff, it’s a much more plodding procedure. Incidentally I should just mention extremely boring to watch, you know, that is a person would be just bored to death if they could watch me work. Far from it being interesting or exciting as some people think.


Unknown said...

Cathy!!! This is tooo crazy! I was looking for this painting from Alex Colville on google and the first painting I clicked was on your blog!!!!!!!

I have got a blog too we should do more blog visit!!!

Unknown said...

Hello my dear friend Bonny!
I apologize for not getting back to you sooner, my internet has been down...too much month at the end of the money you know!
Well I am so happy you found me! I dearly love this painting as I do Alex Colville. Great to know you have a blog! We can do some guest posting on one another's blogs! I would love that! Am going to visit your blog now! So nice to hear from you Bonny! Love you, Cat

Don Landry said...

Hi Catherine

I first saw this image in a framing shop and as a fellow maritimer instantly loved it too. I have been trying to find a copy to purchase. I was told that a copy of this work would be very expensive and since I have not been able to locate a source I really do not know just HOW expensive it might be or that it may not be available at all except through a private sale. I would appreciate it very much of you have a source that you can share. The image is full of meaning for me. The diked river reminds me of my ancestors labouring to make a living back in the 17th. century. In 2004 I stayed in Colville House during my travels to the Acadian Congress. I dabble in acrylic and am travelling to Algonquin Park for a week this month to see and paint Thomson's landscapes.

Unknown said...

Hi Don! Happy to have you visit my blog! Well after doing a search not much is available in this particular print. If you were to get a limited edition which I think is highly unlikely, yes you would pay some bucks 3-400 dollars, if not more. My only suggestion would be to have a quality photo online of the painting and get it printed out at a good print shop.

Wow how wonderful you going to Algonquin Park! Tom Thompson... another one of my heroes!

Thank you for stopping by!