Nfld. & Labrador

Pratt hails Alex Colville as Canada's best painter, ever

Renowned Newfoundland and Labrador artist Christopher Pratt says he thought of Alex Colville as one of the most important Canadian artists in history.

Cites Colville's influence for his own decision to pursue career in the arts

Newfoundland and Labrador artist talks about the influence Alex Colville had on his work. 5:59

Renowned Newfoundland and Labrador artist Christopher Pratt says he thought of Alex Colville as the most important Canadian artist in history.

Colville passed away at his home in Wolfville, N.S., on Tuesday at the age of 92.

Pratt met Colville when he went to Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B. to study pre-med, but later switched to fine arts when Colville said that's what he should be doing.

"It had a great influence on me, because I respected him very much," Pratt said.

"The thing that I saw in his work was the extent to which subject matter was based on his own experience and his own environment, and that appealed to me."

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Pratt said Colville was unlike many other artists he had met.

"What I remember about him most is the example he gave was one of work ethic and integrity and professionalism," Pratt said.

"It was my first encounter with an artist who was, at the same time, very professional and totally non-, even anti-bohemian, and that actually appealed to me very much."

He said that while Colville was more professional than many artists he had met, his art was never about the business.

"I don't think Alex Colville ever did a painting thinking that it was going to sell quickly or well or at a high price or anything like that — as a matter of fact, I'm sure he didn't," Pratt said.

Pratt said he still holds Colville in high esteem.

"I think he was the greatest Canadian artist who ever lived and I think he was far, far ahead of the Group of Seven and those painters," Pratt said.

"I think that he deserves an international stature."

He said despite his own personal success, he still thinks Colville's paintings were more capable of portraying the human condition.