One of the nice things about living in a national capital is the extra quotient of museums and culture that comes with the territory. Some of the more important traveling shows end up here, even though other cities have larger populations. And permanent collections at Ottawa museums showcase topics and artists considered essential to the nation’s cultural identity.
Colville had the unusual and challenging experience of being something called a “war artist“. Try and wrap your head around that job: processing the gruesome emotional impact of war as art.
Colville’s work became very popular in Germany, where he did an artist’s residency in 1971. He once told CBC Radio that Germans know how bad things can (and did) get.
“Everything in my paintings that frightens Canadians seems to appeal to Germans,” he said.
Colville scored an art trifecta, collected by many of the world’s greatest galleries, prized by the richest collectors, yet beloved by the average person. His paintings have been embraced by the art world and the real world, for on both sides of that murky line we all recognize how he rendered our deepest fears into the most simple and contented moments of modern life.
You may or may not be familiar with Colville’s work, more of which can be explored at his official website. Many say Colville’s life and body of accomplishment would be worthy of the unofficial title “Canada’s painter lauriate“.
His death at age 92 is an opportunity to share more with you as a news item and as a dip into art from our times.