Alex Colville

Alex Colville mastered the art of juxtaposition and understood how to compose elements, objects, people and animals in an atmosphere of disquieting tranquility, as though time were suspended. His compositions are constructed according to a precise geometry and executed with a technique consisting of minuscule dabs of paint applied meticulously dot by dot.

The theme of animals, particularly domestic animals, appears in nearly a third of his works.


Painter, draughtsman, engraver and muralist, Alex Colville steadfastly refused to adhere to the formal trends that characterized the 20th century.

Over the course of his career, Colville enjoyed considerable renown and he received many honours. The Art Gallery of Ontario and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts held major retrospectives of his work in 1983 and 1994, respectively. He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1982, and won a Governor General’s Visual and Media Arts Award in 2003.

Factsheet of the work

  • Acrylic polymer emulsion on hardboard, 48 x 110.8 cm, 1996, private collection