Bergland artist in spotlight here
Combining the mythological and contemporary, the visions of Bergland artist Tony Sepers are hanging larger than life on the walls of the Fort Frances Museum.
Taking a few moments to speak as he put up his new exhibit this past Friday, Sepers said his work incorporates letters and symbols over landscapes to convey social and political messages.
In one piece, “Marsyas & Apollo,” Sepers recreates the Greek myth of a satyr who found a flute that had been discarded by the matriarch goddess Hera.
“He learned to play it so well that people swooned and wept,” Sepers explained.
“He became an idol and he challenged Apollo [the Greek god of music, healing, light, and truth] to a duel of making music and whoever won could do with the loser whatever one saw fit.
“And, of course, Marsyas lost and Apollo flayed him alive.
“What that story tells us is the cost at being really good at something, and the other lesson is humility,” he remarked.
“I am sure there are other things you can gain from the story that comes into play,” he added.
“It’s an ancient way of dealing with nature itself, the arts and producing art.”
In another painting entitled “Faust,” inspired by German writer Goethe’s play of the same name about a scholar who makes a deal with the devil for power at the cost of his soul, Sepers’ speaks to women’s and men’s issues.
Although its roots tap into the mythic, Sepers’ work definitely is contemporary, with pieces such as “Portrait of Myself with a Son in the Army,” which conveys Sepers conflicted feelings on that matter.
“If it doesn’t relate to contemporary issues, and it doesn’t relate to the people I know and love, what’s the point?” he asked.
Taking a look around the museum gallery, one will notice visual elements linking the works together.
One recurring feature in Sepers’ work, which also has been exhibited in Winnipeg and Atikokan, is a layer of letters—sometimes prominent, sometimes nearly invisible but always present in his works.
For example, the lettering on “Faust,” as well as the painting beside it, “The Wolf at the Door,” are “prayers of protection from oneself—to keep yourself safe from harm and to keep yourself from doing things you shouldn’t ought to,” explained Sepers.
The lettering on “Portrait of Myself with a Son in the Army” is a “prayer for peace,” he noted.
Another prominent motif in Sepers’ art is the figure seen on “Watch for Pedestrians” road signs along highways.
Sepers said this is an emblematic figure, neither male nor female but a full-grown adult figure. It has an ambling gait and depending on the forward angle, its energy is increased or decreased.
Viewers of his art can search for this figure in all but one of his paintings.
Sepers noted there are other connections between his works, and one good idea leads to another.
For example, the piece “Immortal Beloved,” which depicts a starry night sky, stemmed from “Eve and Adam in Paradise.”
“When I was doing the highway at the bottom [of Eve and Adam in Paradise], the starry night appeared to me as it got denser and stuff was shining through.
It’s not what I wanted for that painting . . . but there it is,” he said, pointing across the gallery to “Immortal Beloved.”
Similarly, Sepers took a liking to a hay bale appearing as a part of larger work, and made a separate painting of that hay bale, which is covered in nearly invisible lettering.
Both works also are on display at the museum.
The exhibit opened this past Saturday and will run through the end of April.
It is supported by a grant from the Ontario Arts Council.
The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
More information on Sepers can be found at asepers.com