By Donna Faye
Anyone who has grown up in the Lakehead has seen countless renditions of the Sleeping Giant—more or less the same insipid watercolour fare in pastel blue and violet. That may be why Sebastien Hardy’s work, “Interpretation of Sleeping Giant,” at first glance, looks so foreign. It takes a moment for my eyes to focus on the familiar shape, here portrayed in vivid blue and blocks of silver, yes silver paint. Of course!
This new take on a nearly sacred Thunder Bay art tradition comes from French artist Sebastien Hardy, a former youth social worker from Lautenbach, France, a village nestled cozily amid vineyards and mountains. “I find a lot of similarities between Lautenbach and Thunder Bay, in terms of the environment and the way people relate to one another,” says Hardy. “For me Thunder Bay is a big city with the allure of a village.”
After working ten years at a boarding school with children facing extreme hardships, Hardy was spent emotionally. He was losing himself in his work. He realized he needed to find an outlet, something in which he could find himself again. He threw himself into various activities, sports and eventually painting. “That was something just for me,” says Hardy. “I was just doing it for myself.” That was four years ago and he says painting has been a way for him to reconnect with himself. “My art is abstract, the best way I can express emotions.”
In August, Hardy and his wife decided to leave France with their daughter to spend a year in Canada, where he would devote himself completely to painting. A chance meeting with Habana Gallery owner Ayesha Raggi led to his upcoming art show. “When I first saw Sebastien’s paintings, I recognized right away his natural sensitivity for composition and colour, which are essentials in abstract art…for Sebastien this style has evolved effortlessly.” Hardy is equally pleased with the opportunity. “Since I decided to pursue art, everything seems to be falling into place,” says Hardy. “As a child I dreamed of being an artist. One must never forget those childhood dreams.”
Sebastien Hardy’s grand opening at Habana Gallery, located at 118 North Cumberland Street, takes place Saturday, March 1 at 6:30 pm. Throughout the month, the gallery will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 am to 5 pm.