Experiencing Technical Difficulties (resonant) wrote,
Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Alex Colville at the AGO

My little sister parke_matru visited me for a few weeks. I only have a one-room apartment, but we get along well enough for short periods with her camping out on my futon. She's very good at turning off the computer when I need to sleep. Even when the screen isn't facing me, the blue glow keeps me from getting rested, so I'm grateful that she matched her sleep schedule to mine.

We didn't see each other much. During the day, I went to work, while she explored the city. On weekends, she went to Fan Expo or other events. So, we only got to spend one full day together. We spent it at the Art Gallery of Ontario's exhibit on Alex Coleville.


We took the bus, subway and streetcar downtown, and met my boyfriend Sandy outside the gallery. We were all hungry, so we ate lunch at The Village Idiot / L'Idiot du Village, a pub across the street. I had warned Sandy that she is not the most sociable person, but she surprised me and made pleasant conversation with him.

We then went to the gallery, passing under the facade designed by Frank Gehry. This reinforced my opinion that he can't design buildings. The curving glass front of the gallery dumps rainwater onto the heads of anyone trying to enter. There are ledges and nooks in the open framework behind the facade, inhabited by pigeons perching over the heads of passers-by. A ridge of pigeon poop sits on the sidewalk like a little fence protecting the building.


We went into the building, and then spent an hour looking at a hundred paintings by Nova Scotian artist Alex Colville. They didn't have my favourite of his works (an oil sketch from his war artist years, "Grave of a Canadian Trooper"), but had a lot of work I hadn't seen before from when he was at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

My sister and I have actually been at most of the places where his paintings are set, so they probably had more impact on us than on Sandy.


The thing that struck me the most was how powerful and creepy his paintings are in person, as opposed to on computer screens and in books. The painting "Horse and Train" is nearly black when you see it, and you have to look closely to see the details. The light of the train is a spot of pure white, shining in the night, as the horse runs at it in the darkness. When you see it on a screen, the contrast is a lot less, and it looks like the horse is running in the late afternoon or on a cloudy day.


My sister then treated Sandy and I to overpriced coffee in the beautiful gallery cafe. It is a huge, sunlit space, with arches of polished wood supporting swathes of glass. Probably leaky and damp in rain, and cold and drafty in winter, but not bad for summer.

In the gift shop, Sandy noticed that my sister was looking at a pillow shaped like a log. He bought it without letting her see. We then walked down to Trimurti, our favourite Indian restaurant, and started to have dinner. Sandy gave her the log pillow, and she seemed appreciative. However, after eating a few bites, she exceeded her maximum allowable social interaction for the week, and had to flee our company.

I reassured Sandy that she wasn't running away because she didn't like him, but had instead talked more comfortably and openly with him than any other friend of mine.

I then went home, and found my sister sleeping on my futon, using the log pillow. It was so sweet! I took a picture, and later showed it to Sandy.
Tags: sandy
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