LOT 025

1920 - 2013

Study for Woman, Dog and Canoe
mixed media on paper
signed, dated 26-Feb-82 and 27-Feb-82 and inscribed "Scale .025 (1/4)" / "sheet 47 x 52.15 cm" / "image 37.5 x 50 cm" and variously and on verso titled on the Waddington & Gorce gallery label
9 1/4 x 4 1/2 in 23.5 x 11.4 cm

Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000

Preview at: Heffel Vancouver

Waddington & Gorce Inc., Montreal
David Ariss Fine Art, St. John's
Private Collection, Toronto

David Burnett, Colville, Art Gallery of Ontario, 1983, page 205, the 1982 serigraph Woman, Dog and Canoe reproduced page 201
David Burnett, Alex Colville: Prints, 1985, the 1982 serigraph Woman, Dog and Canoe reproduced front cover
Philip Fry, Paintings, Prints and Processes, 1983 - 1994: Alex Colville, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1994, page 101

This exquisite lot presents a rare opportunity to acquire the study for the 1982 serigraph Woman, Dog and Canoe, arguably one of the most famous images produced by Alex Colville.

The uniquely Canadian image of the canoe and paddler has appeared repeatedly in Colville’s work, such as in the 1970 serigraph Sunrise, the 1972 painting Woman Carrying Canoe and the 1979 painting Swimming Dog and Canoe. All the aforementioned images attempt to capture an ethereal moment in time. This moment has been described by some scholars as a notion of “grace,” by which Colville means “that there are moments when everything appears to be all right, that things are in their place and that one is insulated against fears and pressures,” as he expressed. Few moments capture this sentiment better than paddling freely on the open water, in the company of one’s treasured pet, on a glorious summer day.

This drawing also contains technically fascinating details. First, Colville worked on this study over the course of several days, as the sequential dates indicate. Second, it appears he toyed with the idea of changing the woman’s pole position, as evidenced in the drawing at the bottom left outside the lower image. Third, his use of colour in the top sketch is far more brilliant than the serigraph. We see azure, cerulean and sky blue used in varying tonal degrees to render the perception of depth and space, all within the confines of a few inches. This comprehensive study is a window into an extraordinary drawing process. As Philip Fry wrote of Colville’s method, “Very frequently, an image is reworked on different occasions, producing an overlay effect. When doing this, Colville uses different colours or media during each work session and dates each layer with the appropriate colour or medium. These layered images are of particular interest because they clearly show the process of modification and adjustment of the elements and relationship which determines the final work.”

This synthesis of process evokes reverence and awe. Through iconic images such as Woman, Dog and Canoe, Colville convinces us this synthesis is effortless, when in fact, it reveals his refined expertise. Studies like this lay bare the underpinnings of an extraordinary geometrical ability and technical understanding that few artists achieve.

Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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