Joe Fafard:
New Work

Douglas Udell Gallery, Vancouver
April 17 - May 1

Joe Fafard - Monet (1999)
Joe Fafard, Monet (1999),
bronze Ed. 5

Joe Fafard is undoubtedly one of Canada's best-loved and well-known artists. Over the past twenty years, he has moved from the creation of "souvenir art" using barnyard animals as subject matter to using them as a starting point for issues of visual and cognitive perception. Although he likely is best remembered for his sculptural and graphic images of cows, he is a dedicated problem-solving artist who applies problems of space and spatial relationships, mass, volume and line to simple subjects from the rural world around him.

Fafard's serial work allows him to fully investigate the "push and pull of skin and bones", of height and width and depth, in pieces that range from the farm animals to images of artists and art critics. In an earlier series of van Gogh portrait busts, Fafard used clay to three-dimensionally replicate van Gogh's 40 self-portrait paintings. The current exhibition at the Douglas Udell Gallery likewise represents an artist-to-artist dialogue as Fafard pays homage to early 20th Century realist painters. Included are busts of Cézanne, Monet, Renoir, Rodin, van Gogh and Picasso, as well as a bust of Dégas entitled "Le Petit Danseur".

Fafard's artwork is sufficiently unpretentious and populist that one reviewer called it "user-friendly". He combines figurative style with the proportions of caricatures. When his work succeeds, it appears artless and ingenious, and intimate rather than regional.

© Mia Johnson