ichannel, a national television information service devoted to exploring political and social issues, will celebrate the life and legacy of renowned Canadian painter Alex Colville with a special broadcast of the documentary Portraits Of War on July 24.
Colville, one of this country’s most celebrated contemporary artists, died on July 16 at his home in Wolfville, N.S. He was 92.
Produced by Toronto-based Stornoway Productions, Portraits Of War offers an intimate look at Colville’s experiences with the Canadian Army during World War Two. As a military artist, he documented the troop landings at Normandy on D-Day, and was there as Allied forces pressed on into Germany.
Colville acknowledged that these wartime experiences powerfully influenced his later artistic work, informing the subtle sense of dread that often seemed to lurk just beneath the surface of even his most tranquil-seeming tableaux.
In Portraits Of War, Colville’s story is intertwined with that of another Canadian who documented the reality of World War Two: Harold Morden, a combat evacuation medic and amateur photographer whose candid pictures – snapped on the fly, when the Military Police weren’t watching – captured the nature of life on the front lines in ways that few civilians have ever seen.
The paths of Colville and Morden would eventually cross, on one of the war’s darkest days. Both men were among the few Canadians present when the Allies liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and bore witness that day to evidence of unimaginable depravity. It would change them forever.
ichannel presents Portraits Of War on Wednesday July 24 at 9 pm and Midnight ET. The documentary repeats on Saturday July 27 at 9 pm and 1 am ET.