View From The Glen

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dark Horse

I've long been fascinated by this painting:

It's by renowned Canadian painter Alex Colville who was inspired by these words from South African poet and satirist, Roy Campbell:

Against a regiment I oppose a brain
And a dark horse against an armored train.

(I love it when poetry and art come together.)

Carla introduced me to the work of Colville in the early 90's when we were living in Halifax. We didn't have the internet then, but she had a book of Colville's art and we'd spend hours in her flat on Creighton Street listening to Ella Fitzgerald, drinking pinot noir and pouring over the pictures.

We returned to this one (Horse and Train) time after time. It is so dark, so powerful, evoking the freedom of the horse at full gallop, and the inevitability of what was going to happen if he keeps on his current course. For the viewer, suspended forever in that one anxious moment, it causes unease and tension.

Note: Bruce Cockburn used this painting as the cover for his 1973 album Night Vision. He said later that the picture gave him a sense of impending doom; Horse and Train is part of the Art Gallery of Hamilton's permanent collection.

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