Alex Colville

Montréal Museum of Fine Arts

One of Canada’s most prominent painters, Alex Colville has, for decades, either been revered or abhorred by critics for the kitschy, naive sentimentality of his realist paintings. This exhibition included virtually his entire output between 1983 and 1994: 25 paintings, 246 preparatory drawings, watercolor studies, and serigraphs. In this show, there seemed to be an effort to recast Colville as a process artist by providing endless examples of the way he builds his intricate compositions from his preparatory works, using such devices as Le Corbusier’s “modular” geometrical constructions.

The real attraction, however, is not the way Colville engineers his compositions, but the way he captures the essence of contemporary life by combining realism with an abstract sensibility. The sexual and social dynamics in Colville’s work are similar to those found in Eric Fischl’s paintings, but where

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