Alex Colville


Everyday Colville

“It’s the ordinary things that seem important to me.” — Alex Colville

Alex Colville’s iconic paintings present scenes of everyday Canadian life. But there’s something about a Colville that leaves you intrigued, and often uneasy. Meticulously realized, his images suggest something beyond the moment. They hint at intimacy, vulnerability and potential menace. With this haunting mix of the ordinary and the extraordinary, Colville deftly directs our focus to the uncertainty of everyday appearances and experiences. “Take nothing for granted,” his images seem to say. Exploring issues of anxiety and control, trust and love, Colville’s particular view of the world is always profound.

To Prince Edward Island (1965) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Sam: Why do you always use binoculars?
Suzy: It helps me see things closer. I pretend it's my magic power. —Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom

Indie filmmaker Wes Anderson’s film Moonrise Kingdom reverberates with visual references to Colville’s works. In Anderson’s film, which is decidedly nostalgic in look and feel, we encounter Suzy atop a lighthouse in 1965 New England. She brings a pair of binoculars to her face, determined to see beyond her small-town life. The woman in Colville’s painting seems to share Suzy’s resolute look. Both Anderson and Colville use the binoculars as a device: they point the glass directly at you, compelling you to face the scrutiny of the sustained female gaze. For Colville, this scene expresses the active and intuitive power of female vision: “the woman sees, I suppose, and the man does not.”

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Alex Colville To Prince Edward Island, 1965 acrylic emulsion on masonite 61.9 x 92.5 cm Purchased 1966 National Gallery of Canada (no. 14954) © A.C.Fine Art Inc

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Moonrise Kingdom Film Still © 2012 Moonrise LLC

“A visual voice for Canada”

A look at Alex Colville’s popular appeal, with insight from his friends and Canadian art experts. Via Global News.