By Day, By Night. Writings on Art. By Edmund Alleyn. Edited by Jennifer Alleyn and Gilles Lapointe. les editions du passage 2013
This slim volume is the ﬁrst in a hopefully long series of books on art. As the title might indicate, it contains notes, aphorisms and other musings by Edmund Alleyn written during different periods of his life under the inﬂuence of different emotions. His daughter Jennifer Alleyn, a documentary ﬁlmmaker and Gilles Lapointe, a professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal, have jointly edited this compendium. Some of the texts have been translated from their original French versions by Louise Ashcroft whereas others appear in their original English version. You guessed it. Painter Edmund Alleyn -1931-2004- was the quintessential, or at least ideal, Canadian: a truly bilingual man.
At ﬁrst glance, these writings are reminiscent of John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, but this impression is ephemeral. Berger is a writer expounding on the aesthetics of painting, Alleyn was a painter expounding on the thoughts that images triggered in his mind. Do not be fooled: this dense booklet is deeply cerebral. And erotic as well, as exempliﬁed by a short piece of ﬁction.The black and white illustrations are oniric and the whole oeuvre invites the reader to enter a trance-like state.
As Edmund Alleyn put it: “Art is perhaps the ﬁction essential to protecting humanity from truth.