ALEXANDER COLVILLE, R.C.A.
Acquired directly from the artist
Private Collection, Nova Scotia (by descent to the present owner)
Annual Exhibition, Nova Scotia Society of Artists, n.d.
Alex Colville was one of Canada’s best known realist painters. After graduating from Mount Allison University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1942, he enlisted in the army and later served as an official war artist from 1944 to 1946. The experience of war and having witnessed human destruction on such a massive scale affected him profoundly.
The few paintings that Colville produced soon after his return to civilian life and his move to Sackville, New Brunswick to teach at Mount Allison, suggest that he was trying to make sense of his war experience as he set about painting his immediate surroundings. Forest and Beach is an early example of Colville’s imbuing his subject with questions about human existence. This is more than simply a landscape featuring an uprooted tree and rocks on one of New Brunswick’s many beaches. Painted the same year as his canvases for the Canadian War Records, Forest and Beach appears to be a metaphor for the frailty and brevity of human life.