Alex Colville as a young war artist
A major exhibition of Alex Colville’s work concluded at the AGO in January and now moves on to the National Gallery in April.
Inspired, we’re offering a workshop on March 14th, themed on this Canadian contemporary master. Perhaps more than Colville’s realist style, it’s his composition and narrative which intrigue. What I like about his art is that it is at once both simple and obscure, always eliciting a reaction.
Alex Colville evokes strong reactions in most people I talk to and very few are ambivalent.There’s the precision and organization of course, and perhaps being led into his world, his vision – with little room for interpretation. Some are, however, delighted by these same factors: the post-modern realism, the composition, the sometimes indirect, dark messaging and the irresistible, surreal edge.
The same sort of mystery is present in past masters’ works – Vermeer certainly, and many American realists, particularly Edward Hopper. A little mystery can be the making of many a fine painting. I recall a painting created last year by friend and workshop participant, Gabriel Lepkey.
Gabriel Lepkey, “Man & Dog”, Oil on canvas
With most representational work, there’s an element of narrative that engages. In this case, the juxtaposition between man and dog – where are they going, coming from, who appears the happier, and why? All set in a natural, resonant composition – it works as a painting and potential narrative.
Without over-thinking things, I aim for a sense of interpretation in some of my own work, particularly figure paintings. In my painting “Downstream” a figure floats – downstream of what, why, real or dream?
David Kearn, “Downstream”, 30×40″, Acrylic on canvas
Whatever your style, join us on March 14th for a day inspired by Colville’s legacy: adding a little mystery to your paintings. You can check out this and other upcoming sessions in our workshop series on the courses page of my website.