A new retrospective

Madison Blanchard
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David Thauberger's work showcased in freshly-minted spring exhibition at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery

David Thauberger’s paintings appear so real, it’s as though one could walk right into the frame.

It’s that magic that has made him a fan favourite for more than 40 years.

Describing his work is difficult, but Sandra Fraser, co-curator of Thalberger’s new show, Roadtrips and Other Diversions, manages to find its core.

“If I had to synthesize David’s work, I would say it’s folk meets pop art.”

The retrospective at the Confederation Center Art Gallery showcases the Saskatchewan based artist’s work over the last four decades, and features many surprises for those familiar with Thauberger’s art.

“Everyone who thought they knew David, has been surprised by the show…..It was interesting for us to kind of unravel it, sort of a broader range of thinking and creating,” Fraser says.

The show has even surprised the artist himself.

“This is an occasion to see my work and I live with it all the time while I’m making it. But I don’t live with it after it’s gone, so some of the paintings are kind of a new discovery or new acquaintance for me too. That's because many of these paintings I haven’t seen in over 30 years ... so it’s kind of great to see them again, to see where I was, where I’ve been, and where I‘ve gone since,” says Thauberger, who is known for his work on Canadian landscapes.

The surprising diversity of the work and introducing it to people is what makes the show so satisfying to put on, says Fraser.

“That’s really rewarding as a curator to be expanding people’s ideas about who he is. Part of our interest, I think... is to complicate people’s understanding of his work because I think if you look at it, it seems really direct, you know. You feel like you get it, right away and that’s part of the success of it because people really connect to it.”

It’s rewarding for Thauberger to get people’s reactions to his older work.

“Everyone has their own kind of take, their own memory. This is kind of my take or my memory on the places I’ve been.”

One of the places he has used in his work was Charlottetown in 1993, where he was an artist in residence for around six weeks.

“I still work from photos I took of that time,” Thauberger said.

The Confederation Centre of the Arts is the last stop on the tour for the exhibition, that has been touring since 2014.

It is a part of the spring exhibition at the gallery which also features work by Robert Harris and other Canadian artists, as part of Building the Pose: Portraits from the Collection and Things We Can Agree on and other Works of Fiction by Sandi Hartling.

Hartling is originally from Halifax and has participated. This will be her first solo exhibit and she has been making a name for herself with artwork fused with both humor and complexity. For Hartling, art is a way of expressing thoughts and ideas she has.

“It lets me approach any topic-linguistics, statistics, philosophy, physics and optics. The visual process of reading art is the same to me as any other form of communication and equally as abstract.”

The career path of an artist was something Hartling never thought about but simply just fell into.

“I never thought about choosing to make art. It was never a conscious choice for me. I guess in some ways I just felt compelled to do it, and still do.”


-David Thauberger’s retrospective, Roadtrips and Other Diversions runs until June 5.

-Sandi Hartling’s exhibit, Things We Agree On and Other Works of Fiction continues until April 10.

Organizations: Confederation Centre Art Gallery, Confederation Center Art Gallery

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Halifax

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