|Enigma 1966 Queen's University, Kingston.|
A few weeks ago, I learnt of the untimely death of my very dear friend Brian Fisher. We first meet some fifty odd years ago at the Accademia di Belli Arti, in Rome. Brian had arrived with a Canada Council grant in his pocket, and had decided to study the Renaissance masters at their source. Over the next year or so we got to know each other very well, spending days exploring the some eighteen hundred sites worth viewing in Rome. Eating together in some rather run down and questionable restaurants in the back streets of the city. We would walked up and down narrow streets, and across piazzas discussing everything under the sun as young men are prone to do, we would often make up free form poetry about the city as we went, of particular interest was the activity of the Roman dogs.It was an exciting time to be in Europe, the full impact of abstraction was making itself felt. Galleries held exhibitions of Tapies, de Stael Wols, Karel Appel, Fontana, Burri to name just a few, all within walking distance of our front door. Mark Rothko held a major exhibition down at the British School in Rome, that for young artists from the "new' world took our breath away.
Our mornings were taken up drawing various over weight models in the life drawing class, and then apart from excellent lectures in the afternoon the days were ours. We were fortunate to have a philosopher in the form of Prof. Reviasici who had been a close friend of Benedetto Croce during the 1930s. He was very distressed at the direction the world was taking, the urban development, electrical wires clouding out the Roman sky.The Academy was full of students from all over the world, Americans, Germans, even Iceland was represented, so there was a wide range of viewpoints from which to draw.
|Detail . Transfixion. Dept. of External Affairs.|
Brian ,as I remember him was a very methodical person, who thought problems from a somewhat mathematical perspective. Looking back it was a quality he remained faithful too for most of his life. At the time he was a great fan of Mark Tobey, and his calligraphic impulses, reference to Chinese brush painting. like many young people at the time we were both influenced by Zen and its simplicity of form. The exhibition we held together in 1963 at Il Bilico, exemplifies his approach at the time. He would talk a lot about his teachers in Vancouver who had influenced him, Roy Kiyooka and Ron Bloore's white paintings ,that he felt spelt out the future. of art. During my second year in Rome I saw a lot less of him, as his partner Carol Itter arrived from Canada intending to study stage and costume design at the Academy.
The following year we meet up again in London, were I was studying stained glass, and he offered to sponsor my immigration to Canada. This was very kind, as it gave me the opportunity to settle in Canada. It so happened that , Toronto Cathedral was being built, and an SOS had been sent out for stained glass artist. After a short stay in Vancouver, my wife and I returned to Australia. , to visit her family.
It was only when we met up again in Tasmania, that I learnt of his successful career in the Canadian art world. His major commissions for postage stamps, murals at Montreal International Airport, various other venues. His work had sold well, and had been purchased by all the major galleries in Canada. But it was not to last, after we renewed our friendship, he was struck down by some bone disorder that resulted in the loss of a leg. Brian never seemed to be able to come to terms with his new physical condition, somethingg I can fully understands, who wants to lose their leg. Then recently he developed a tumor on his brain, that in the end carried him off. Unfortunately, I was in Laos when this happened, so was unable to say a proper goodbye. He leaves behind his lovely wife Joy, and devoted daughter and son. . Brian Fisher has left the world a richer place than he found it, I am sure in generations to come people will remember Brian Fisher through his paintings.
|"Wheel" !988. Personal collection.|