Tracey Tong/metro ottawa
Through sculptures of cows, horses and small-town folk, Ottawans can get insight into the life of a world renowned visual artist.
“You have to be authentic, and this is what I can speak about,” said Joe Fafard. “I grew up in a small town and everyone knows everyone else quite well.”
From the small agricultural community of Ste. Marthe, Sask., where the artist was born, to the National Gallery of Canada, where a retrospective of his work runs through May 4, the Joe Fafard Exhibition traces a path of his life.
The exhibit features 69 works in ceramic, bronze, plaster and laser-cut steel created over 40 years by Fafard.
Arranged in chronological order, the retrospective lets visitors see how Fafard’s work has changed over time, said Kate Davis, the director of the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, where the exhibit recently drew 40,000 viewers over three months.
Fafard, who is known for sculptures of horses, cows and other farm animals, has also sculpted politicians, artists including Van Gogh and Renoir and his own family members.
Visitors will find the art accessible, said Katja Canini, an NGC education officer.
“Cows and horses are animals we recognize in our day-to-day life, but by playing with the shapes and proportions, he gives us a new perspective into the world around us,” said Canini. “He makes you consider the world in a different way.”
The sculptures “give us a real sense of the individual,” said Canini. “He doesn’t just show us what they look like. You can get a sense of who the person is through their posture, and small movements and gestures.”