By PAUL GESSELL
The Saskatchewan invasion continues at Cube Gallery.
The province’s most famous living artist, Joe Fafard, has made a few memorable stops at Cube Gallery in the last couple of years and hordes of customers have shelled out big bucks for his animal sculptures.
Now David Thauberger, my favourite Saskatchewan painter, is among three artists from the province shipping art to Cube for an exhibition April 1 to May 4 called 3/3 Timeless, Canadian, Classic.
Thauberger, who is best known for his hyper-realist paintings of prairie architecture, will be joined by Saskatchewan wildlife artist Jack Cowin and a nature-loving Sask. ex-pat Russell Yuristy, who has lived in Ottawa for decades but is still very much a stubble-jumper. All three have works in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada.
Yuristy, Fafard, and Thauberger have all been pals since before most of you were born. Long a staple at Cube Gallery, Yuristy has played a big role in helping bring his friends’ work to Ottawa. Despite being the national capital, Ottawa commercial galleries rarely exhibit any artist from west of Ontario or east of Quebec.
Thauberger will unfortunately not be able to attend the Cube exhibition. He is busily preparing for a large retrospective at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon April 11 that will be followed by a national tour to Regina, Calgary, Windsor, and Charlottetown. Alas, Ottawa is not on the schedule. As well, Thauberger has an exhibition of new work opening April 13 at Darrell Bell Gallery in Saskatoon.
Busy as he is, Thauberger took time to answer a few questions.
Paul Gessell: Why did you want to be part of this exhibition at Cube Gallery?
David Thauberger: This is an opportunity to show some of my work in Ottawa, the first time in many years. As well (it is) a chance to exhibit with two artists from Saskatchewan whose work I know very well.
PG: You will be exhibiting with two other heavyweights from the Saskatchewan art world. You each have distinctive styles and subjects. But is there a linkage among you three other than geography?
DT: As far as linkage is concerned, it really is the fact that all three of us have personal Saskatchewan history. We have all been involved in printmaking, making limited edition prints, and Russell Yuristy and I go back more than 40 years (he taught the very first art class I ever attended — this before I was even aware that I had an interest in art). So, he goes back as far as I do and we remain friends and colleagues even today.
PG: Your hyper-realist style makes me think of Christopher Pratt. I suspect he would have created paintings like yours had he lived in Saskatchewan rather than Newfoundland. What do you think?
DT: I am a fan of Christopher Pratt’s work. I don’t know if he would be painting the prairies if he lived here (Saskatchewan) or that I would be painting Newfoundland if I were there. Personal histories, experiences, education, etc., are all factors that help decide the kind of artwork one eventually ends up making, as well as simple geographic location. For myself, however, I will say that I spent a couple of months in PEI in the early ‘90s and have been inspired to make paintings from that visit over the years. So, clearly, something “clicked” for me with the landscape/geography and architecture on the island.
PG: Smalltown prairie architecture is the subject of many of your works. What attracts you to those buildings?
DT: Yes, I have continued to make paintings of the rural/small town architecture on the prairies. I like to think of it as the “built” landscape. Most simply put, this is the environment I grew up in and continue to live in. It is my lived experience. I feel I know it well enough to make genuine and informative works about the world I know. Fortunately for me, I have received considerable positive reaction to the paintings I have been making — enough to make me continue this line.