DAVID A. THAUBERGER, R.C.A.
RED BOAT, 2001
acrylic on canvas
signed, titled and dated on the overflap
42 ins x 65 ins; 106.7 cms x 165.1 cms
David Thauberger (b. 1948) the creator of some of the most compelling, memorable, iconic images of prairie Canada. Yet to obsess exclusively about his prairie roots would lead us to overlook a crucial ingredient in his character and background, thus misunderstanding the complexity of his career motivations and the foundations of this picture: Red Boat.
Thauberger’s art training was ‘cross-boundary’. His undergraduate was at the University of Saskatchewan, yet he holds a Master of Arts from California State University, Sacramento, 1972 and Master of Fine Arts, University of Montana, 1973. His path towards the artist we now know is quite unique. He commenced his work as a ceramic sculptor, not as a painter. Back in Regina he teamed with Joe Fafard, Victor Cicansky and David Gilhooly among many other notable contributors to forge a very special new art.
Roughly concurrent with Thauberger’s California studies, a brash young British Pop artist was making waves while teaching at UC Berkely. David Hockney was pointing the way towards a new approach to picture-making with his images of suburban houses and portrayal of everyday southern California life. Thauberger personally collected his work. Hockney’s 1967 painting, A Bigger Splash and his 1971 series of lithographs Flowers Made of Paper and Black Ink emphatically demonstrated the axiom of Surrealist René Magritte: Ceci n’est pas une Pipe. All picture-making was a willful artifice.
Thauberger made numerous “sketching trips” across western Canada to southern Alberta, BC, Banff, the Rockies and The Yukon. However, there would be no on-the-spot painted wooden panels or field drawings. He foraged in search of calendar pictures, postcards, magazine and tourist brochure images. He looked for the quintessential standard view, the embodiments of the populist conception of the ‘beauty spot’. One could speculate that the site of Thaughberger’s Red Boat is Mount Bourgeau, Vermilion Lakes near Banff, AB. It was a popular view for turn of the century Canadian academic painters such as F.M. Bell-Smith. Red Boat is a picture-perfect example of Thauberger’s art.
Equinox Gallery, Vancouver
Private Collection, Montreal