Wpg Free Press: Appreciation from an apostle
Vincent van Gogh has been inspiring artists for close to 150 years. For sculptor Joe Fafard, the Dutch master’s life and art have been objects of fascination for many of his 75 years.
So much so that Fafard’s latest Winnipeg exhibition, The Essential Joe Fafard — Van Gogh and Other Inspirations, which opened Friday at Mayberry Fine Art, includes several sculptures of van Gogh, who began painting in 1881 but lived a short, turbulent life, fraught with mental illness, before committing suicide in 1890 at the age of 37.
“Starting about 1983, I started doing portraits of van Gogh,” Fafard says in a phone conversation from his home near Regina.
“Essentially, people used his life, his career and his anguish as sort of a stereotype of an artist’s blueprint for artistic endeavour. I became quite fascinated to see that he was the Christ and other artists were the apostles.”
One of the works in the exhibition, a 70-centimetre-tall bronze likeness of van Gogh titled The Sower, focuses on the influence the Dutch painter has had on other artists. Fafard’s description of it makes van Gogh sound like a Johnny Appleseed of the artistic world….
He moved to Winnipeg in the 1960s to attend the University of Manitoba, where he graduated from its fine arts program in 1966 (an honorary doctorate followed in 2007).
Since then his works have been exhibited across the country and around the world, and many of his bronze sculptures of farmyard animals have become public art pieces in cities such as Toronto, Edmonton and Montreal.