Ac­claimed artist Joe Fa­fard con­tin­ues his dis­cov­ery in Swift Cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tion

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Swift Current - BY MATTHEW LIEBEN­BERG— mlieben­berg@prairiepost.com

The Art Gallery of Swift Cur­rent (AGSC) is cur­rently host­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion of works by in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed Saskatchewan artist Joe Fa­fard.

“Joe Fa­fard is one of Canada's most sig­nif­i­cant artists and Saskatchewan is re­ally proud of what Joe has achieved,” AGSC Di­rec­tor and Cu­ra­tor Kim Hough­tal­ing said. “So it's a real plea­sure, a real hon­our, to be able to present this ex­hi­bi­tion here in Swift Cur­rent.”

The col­lec­tion of works in the ex­hi­bi­tion vary from laser-cut and welded steel sculp­tures to wood­block and em­bossed prints on pa­per. The ex­hi­bi­tion's ti­tle, Re­tailles, is a ref­er­ence in French to scraps or left-over pieces, which is ba­si­cally the process that Fa­fard used when he cre­ated the steel sculp­tures.

“He's a very in­ter­est­ing artist in that, as he dis­cov­ers some­thing, he con­tin­ues to use it,” Hough­tal­ing said. “Mak­ing the dis­cov­ery is not the end in it­self. It's a way to make work from that day on and he works in sev­eral dif­fer­ent ways si­mul­ta­ne­ously. So he'll be mak­ing largescale solid forms that look more nat­u­ral­is­tic as a large cow or a wolf or some­thing, and at the same time he'll be work­ing on a group of re­tailles pieces and mak­ing prints in his print stu­dio. It's a way for him to al­ways stay stim­u­lated and cre­ative, and to keep it fresh by mov­ing in and out of dif­fer­ent works.”

The ori­gin of this ex­hi­bi­tion can be traced back to the artist's in­ter­est in new me­dia, which led him to ex­per­i­ment with laser cuts and to work with drawn or in­scribed im­ages in steel.

“What I was try­ing to do was dis­cover new ways of work­ing, new things I could do, and so the germ of the idea started in the 1990s and then it even­tu­ally evolved in do­ing these laser cuts,” Fa­fard said. “Af­ter I was do­ing those, I had all these pieces left over af­ter the cut­ting, and that's when I started play­ing with those and mak­ing sculp­tures with those as well.”

He welded the left­over ma­te­ri­als to­gether to cre­ate the art pieces that are on show in this ex­hi­bi­tion. He feels this act of re­cy­cling is fol­low­ing a tra­di­tion by many peo­ple to re-use dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als.

“My mother for in­stance, be­cause she used to make all our own clothes and she used to make clothes for other peo­ple in the com­mu­nity,” he said. “She al­ways had re­tailles, pieces of cloth, that were cut out of a pat­tern and she would save it all and in the win­ter time she would make hooked rugs out of it and im­ages. So I feel like I'm join­ing a tra­di­tion, which I think is im­por­tant that we should re­cy­cle. We should make use of all of our re­sources and not be waste­ful in any way.”

A close ex­am­i­na­tion of the steel sculp­tures in the ex­hi­bi­tion re­veal a va­ri­ety of em­bed­ded fig­ures within some of them. There are hu­man fig­ures, a church, trees, and an­i­mals such as a rooster and a cow. They do not have a spe­cific mean­ing and for Fa­fard it was a way to in­volve view­ers with his art.

“It's not di­dac­tic, this means that, that means that,” he said. “It's just putting out some­thing there that could be in­ter­preted by the viewer and a story made up by the viewer of their own ex­pe­ri­ence. So I wanted the viewer to be able to par­tic­i­pate in the sculp­ture by in­clud­ing these things in the sculp­ture.”

An­i­mals have fea­tured promi­nently in many of his art­works dur­ing his ca­reer, and the pieces in this ex­hi­bi­tion are de­pict­ing dif­fer­ent an­i­mals.

“I'm try­ing to em­pha­size the fact that we're only one species of an­i­mals on the globe and there are many species of an­i­mals on the globe, but we are a very clever species and we have been able to har­ness ev­ery­thing in our favour at the ex­pense of many other an­i­mals,” he said. “So it seems im­por­tant to em­pha­size the an­i­mal.”

Two pieces de­pict hu­man-like fig­ures on horse­back, which is a ref­er­ence to the power of hu­mans over an­i­mals.

“It's only through our clev­er­ness that we've ac­com­plished this,” he said. “We've been able to fig­ure out the psy­chol­ogy of other an­i­mals and take ad­van­tage of them with that par­tic­u­lar abil­ity that we have to rea­son, to look back, to look for­ward, to know that we are go­ing to die, to know that we weren't al­ways. So we have a spe­cial place in time and we're a very smart an­i­mal, but we're an an­i­mal none­the­less.”

Fa­fard lives on an acreage near Lums­den. He cel­e­brated his 76th birth­day in Septem­ber, but he has no in­ten­tion to re­tire.

“I never think about re­tir­ing, be­cause I feel like I am re­tired al­ready,” he said. “I've had that kind of life where I haven't held a job since 1974, I haven't had to get up 9 to 5. I haven't had to do any of these things, ex­cept fol­low my own plea­sure and my own cu­rios­ity and work my own time, and if I re­tire I don't know if I wouldn't just do the same thing. So I don't think about re­tir­ing, be­cause it doesn't feel like work. It feels like what I'm do­ing is just fun and in­ter­est­ing to do.”

This ex­hi­bi­tion has al­ready trav­elled to dif­fer­ent venues across western Canada and Swift Cur­rent is the eighth and fi­nal stop. It will be on dis­play at the AGSC un­til Oct. 28. The gallery is open Mon­day to Thurs­day from 1-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m., and Fri­day to Sun­day from 1-5 p.m. It is closed on statu­tory hol­i­days.

Pho­tos by Matthew Lieben­berg

Joe Fa­fard with some of the laser-cut and welded steel sculp­tures in his ex­hi­bi­tion at the Art Gallery of Swift Cur­rent, Sept. 28.

The Art Gallery of Swift Cur­rent hosted a pub­lic re­cep­tion for the Joe Fa­fard ex­hi­bi­tion Re­tailles, Sept. 28.

Three lo­cal artists pro­vided mu­si­cal en­ter­tain­ment at the pub­lic re­cep­tion for the Joe Fa­fard ex­hi­bi­tion in Swift Cur­rent, Sept. 28. From left to right, Dustin Olm­sted, El­iza Doyle, and Paula McGuigan.

The laser-cut and welded steel sculp­tures in the ex­hi­bi­tion were made from left­over pieces of steel from other art­works.

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