Alex Colville: Return

Alex Colville: Return

by Tom Smart
     
 

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Alex Colville was a Canadian war artist during World War II — and one of three painters admitted to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp as it was being liberated. To express the unimaginable chaos, Colville sought order, which he found in an artistic style defined as "magic realism." In the shadow of September 11, and in the ongoing conflicts in the Middle

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Overview

Alex Colville was a Canadian war artist during World War II — and one of three painters admitted to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp as it was being liberated. To express the unimaginable chaos, Colville sought order, which he found in an artistic style defined as "magic realism." In the shadow of September 11, and in the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, Colville's art resonates with a renewed urgency and potency. His work contains complexly coded images that help bring order, coherence, and closure to the disorder and chaos of trauma. Beginning with Embarkation (1994), Alex Colville: Return showcases his paintings and prints from the last 10 years. More than a stunning collection of work by one of Canada's premier artists, the book suggests that the creative process is a personal mode of witnessing and a powerful tool for healing.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Colville (b. 1920) is an acclaimed Canadian artist who lives in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, in the picturesque Annapolis valley. Even though this book (as well as the small show it accompanies) features only 18 paintings, prints, and selected preliminary drawings of the last ten years, curator Smart (Frick Art & Historical Ctr., Pittsburgh) writes convincingly and sensitively of Colville's long life and influential career (with the artist's tacit cooperation). Labeled a practitioner of magic realism, Colville produces introspective, nuanced works that recall Seurat, Hopper, and Alex Katz. His World War II sketches of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp days after liberation are curiously detached yet profoundly expressive. Throughout the catalog, attention is paid to technique, composition, favorite subjects (e.g., a lone figure in nature around water or animals), and recurrent themes of ordering, doubling, longing, and morality. In these strong and unusually cropped compositions, quiet contemplation is everything; one can almost hear the sitters thinking. Highly recommended for collections with an emphasis on contemporary art and for those that may lack other Colville holdings. [The catalog accompanies a traveling exhibition inaugurated at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in fall 2003.-Ed.]-Russell T. Clement, Northwestern Univ. Lib., Evanston, IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780864923691
Publisher:
Goose Lane Editions
Publication date:
09/28/2003
Pages:
144

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