From Paris to Pense
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By 1973, it was evident that a new sensibility had emerged in Regina that was unlike anything else in Canada. Recognition took place in a number of exhibitions across Canada, but most notably through the inclusion of Cicansky, Fafard, Gilhooly, James, Levine, and Yuristy in Canada Trajectoires 73, a cultural exchange exhibition at the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris. In this exhibition, the “Funk artists of Saskatchewan,” as they were characterized, were shown side by side with a selection of Canada’s most advanced painters, sculptors, video artists, and photographers.
The artists’ connections to region also struck a chord with the popular imagination at a moment when the back-to-the-land movement was at its zenith. A notable example of this popular interest is the 1973 National Film Board documentary on Fafard, “I don’t have to work that big,” which played up Fafard’s personal connection to the small town of Pense where he had lived since 1971 and whose residents had become subjects for his sculpture.
As a result of the NFB documentary and other portrayals of the Regina artists (especially Cicansky, Yuristy, and Thauberger), many have viewed their work as a straightforward, nostalgic celebration of rural life. However, this view does not do justice to the complexity of their creative vision.