Essay on Alex Colville

Alex Colville is one of the prominent Canadian artists, whose work has a considerable impacton the development of the modern Canadian art. At the same time, Alex Coville developed his style and art works being independent of other artists focusing on the creation of his original, unique style. In such a context, it is quite paradoxical that the artist, who developed his works independently in virtually in isolation from other artists, has managed to become such an influential artist as Alex Colville. In the paper, I’d like to talk about Alex Colville’s work. Colville is not only be liked by Canadians, but also win worldwide acclaim. He always depicted brook, boat and cliffs, and he also depicted the indoor scene, animals and people. In his paintings, they look calm and quiet, however, at the same time, they give people a sense of anxiety.

Alex Colville is the authentic artist, who has developed his own style independently of external influences (Meyers, 2004). The distinct feature of the development of Alex Colville as an artist was his isolation from external influences and the impact of other artists on his style and artistic work is weak (Meyers, 2004). The development of his work occurred steadily but  Alex Colville was always interested in the development of his artistic style and attempted to  convey his vision of the surrounding reality by his works. The artist creates realistic works, which mirror the surrounding reality and show the audience the development of his vision of the world. However, his works are not mere depiction of the reality but also and mainly his works manifests his original style. In such a way, he develops the aesthetic feelings in the audience and helps viewers to see the hidden beauty in conventional things.

At the moment, he is one of the most popular Canadian artists, whose works are exhibited regularly and attracted the public attention along with the attention of critics (DeMont, 1994). Smart and Cheetham (2004) emphasize the focus of the artist on senses, which prevail over rational depiction of the reality but his artistic works are still realistic due to the perfect feeling and understanding of the reality. The artist has managed to convey the reality and his perception of the reality to the audience through his senses without even saying a word (Smart & Cheetham, 2004). The depiction of the reality by the artist is different from the conventional accurate description of real world items. Instead, the artist creates authentic works, where he uncovers his feelings and emotions that help to perceive the surrounding world through the eyes of the artist and see beauty and miracles in routine objects and things.

Researchers insist that the main themes of his work are emotional tension and inner loneliness, the repression and angst of modern man (Meyer, 2000). The artist attempts to uncover those themes and communicate them to the audience with the help of his works of art. The emotional tension makes his works particularly attractive for the audience. Using simple artistic style, the artist focuses the attention of the audience on routine issues, which people often remain unnoticed and ignore them. The artist helps the audience to see the beauty in simple objects and uncovers their inner beauty through his artistic work.

At this point, it is possible to refer to his creative work and main paintings created by the artist. In Colville’s paintings, we can see the precise compositions of picture, for example, In Dog and Priest (1987), the black dog and the priest in black are overlap which looks like a man with dog head. In addition, we can refer to the combination of movement and peace. However, the author achieves the effect of overlapping through the light and shadow interplay which help the artist to develop the effect of the overlapping. On the other hand, such overlapping is quite symbolic because the development of the effect of overlapping between the dog and the priest, since the image of the dog and the priest are symbols of the simplicity, purity, and friendliness. In such a way, the artist attempts to combine distinct personal features of the dog and priest in one painting and helps the audience to understand that features and traits of character of humans may be similar to that of animals and vice versa.

Another remarkable work of the artist is Berlin Bus (1978), which help to convey the artist’s vision of the world. In Berlin bus (1978), a girl is running between a static advertisement and a moving bus, as if to escape from the advertisement and the social environment. Moreover, his paintings give people a sense of mystery that leaves unlimited thinking. In such a way, the artist creates this work of art to convey his response to the emerging consumerism, which has started to overwhelm the world since the late 1970s – the early 1980s. The artist does not accept consumerism as the plausible way of the development of society and human relations. This is why the girl is trying to escape from its impact. On the other hand, the girl seems to be so tiny and defenseless in face of the ad and the bus, symbols of the growing social impact on the individual and inability of the individual to confront consumerism face to face. Instead, the escape seems to be the only way to minimize its impact on the individual. At the same time, the girl symbolizes the purity, innocence and defenselessness in face of the enormous social impact.

In addition, it is possible to refer to such painting as Horses and Train (1954). In Horses and Train (1954), a train is running from far, however, at another side of rail, a strong horse is also running to meet the train. A tragedy is inevitable. The artist only painted this moment and let people to contemplate what will happen next, to join a moment of quite and shock. At the same time, the painting is quite symbolic since it shows the clash of the nature and technology. The artist implies that the nature seems to be defenseless and weak in face of the technology but still the horse is running boldly to meet the train that means that nature still has some inner, hidden power, which makes it able to confront human technology. Moreover, the artist shows the beauty of nature in face of the human technology.

At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that themes and issues that emerge in works of Alex Colville originate from his personal values and views that formed under the impact of his personal life and experience. When Colville was young, he enlisted in the army to be a war artist, so, he wanted to pass his idea through the paintings: oppose to the war, love peace and happiness. This thought is not a patent of a state or a nation, but is the pursuit of all human beings. In such a context, the clash of the nature and technology symbolizes the clash of the natural good and evil that can be brought by human technologies. He also attempts to show the intrinsic goodness of the natural world through the depiction of the natural world and the hidden threat in the technological world created by humans.

Thus, the development of the artistic work of Alex Colville occurred under the impact of his personal experience, which shaped his views and beliefs. Alex Colville has never tried to imitate other artists. Instead, he conveyed his own vision of the world through his original style and technique. He uses symbols to make his works of art more eloquent and interesting for the audience. Alex Colville has managed to create his own style and draw the attention of the audience to such important issues as war and peace, consumerism and humanistic values, confrontation between wild nature and technology.

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