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The Arts

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canada's 'painter laureate' Alex Colville dead at 92

Posted: 07/18/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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Celebrated painter Alex Colville, whose meticulously crafted scenes of everyday life established him as one of Canada's most well-known modern artists, has died at the age of 92.

His son, Graham, said his father passed away Tuesday at his home in Wolfville, N.S., from a heart condition after years of coping with a variety of health issues.

A painter, engraver, sketch artist and muralist, Colville earned a reputation for crafting tranquil compositions that focused on routine moments of family life and featured landscapes, animals and the sea.

His work was accessible, memorable and reached millions of Canadians through myriad avenues, including art galleries, magazines, book covers, postcards, posters, television, coins and even the cover of a Bruce Cockburn record album.

Robert Fulford described Colville as "our painter laureate."

Colville began his career as a military artist and famously documented troops landing at Juno Beach on D-Day, becoming the most prominent painter to document Canada's involvement in the Second World War.

Graham Colville said the war deeply affected his father.

"His experiences as a war artist really marked him for life and he continued really for decades to have nightmares about the war, possibly until even quite recently. It made a very deep impression."

Two of Colville's paintings, including the war painting Infantry, near Nijmegen, Holland, are currently on view at the Winnipeg Art Gallery as part of its 100th anniversary exhibition 100 Masters: Only in Canada.

"Alex Colville spanned many key movements in art," Stephen Borys, WAG's director and CEO said in a release Wednesday. "His work has always resonated with the public because he painted familiar, commonplace scenes -- the family in the kitchen, a cat sitting on a fence, people walking on a beach. But inherent in each work was a sense of loneliness and isolation."

Colville was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1967, and made Companion of the Order of Canada in 1982. He won a Governor General's Visual and Media Arts Award in 2003.

-- The Canadian Press, with staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 18, 2013 C16

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