Thursday, January 29, 2009


Alex Colville does not expect anything beyond this life. In the end we are all dead would summarize his view. Perhaps he might say that he has received honours and tributes enough to compensate for an afterlife. Do I wish that Colville embraced a biblical view of heaven. Of course I do. Colville is 89 years of age, has struggled with prostate cancer and bowel cancer and has a valve replacement in his heart.

He has said that his lifework is his effort to ask one question: What is life like? As Colville puts it, "You spend your whole life telling people what it's like to be alive." In order to affect this Colville has examined his surroundings of the Annapolis Valley, the shores of the Minas Basin, his home and his family. His children have been some of his models and Rhoda, his wife of 60 years has been the subject of many paintings.

He is very much aware of his age, the imminence of death, the legacy he lives and the manner in which his mortality inspires his paintings. He understands that his work has stirred interpretation and sometimes controversy, telling the CBC's Life and Times "what troubles people about my work, in which they find mystery and intrigue, may well be the idea that ordinary things are important."
CBC has done an impressive interview with Mr. Colville recently and I felt privileged to watch it on my television. Canada is proud of this artist of provocative pieces which are recognizable around the world.

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