A Wadena businessman is understandably proud of his son, Brandon Panasiuk. The 25-year-old University of Saskatchewan student is pursuing a bachelor of fine arts degree and has already produced works that are drawing notice in the art world.
The Grizzly Bear, The Golden Eagle, The Timber Wolf and The Sunshine Buffalo were commissioned by a collector at Fishing Lake First Nation.
Alison Squires had some questions for Brandon Panasiuk.
When did you first become interested in art?
I became intrigued when I was a very small boy; right around the time I started going to elementary school. I was a huge fan of superheroes. Spiderman was my favourite. My family moved around a lot back then so our funding for action figures wasn’t exactly a priority. Fortunately I discovered the infinite potential of Plasticine. I became an intricate sculptor and before long had amassed an army of one-inch character replicas. I never considered it an artistic endeavour at the time but looking back I realize I was already practising patience and establishing an attention to detail. I started drawing cartoons and inventing my own characters in the third grade and by then I was already obsessed with the idea of being a creator.
Brandon Panasiuk lives in Saskatoon.
What made you decide to pursue art professionally?
The first time I really thought about it was in the 11th grade at Marion M. Graham Collegiate. My art teacher, Kevin Sikorsky, introduced me to new mediums and techniques but he also taught me how to perceive, envision and articulate my artwork on a conceptual level. I was honoured to have one of my works showcased at the Mendel Art Gallery as a part of the School Art exhibition, and seeing my work in a gallery like that made the possibility of becoming a professional conceivable. Attending Emily Carr University allowed me to evolve as an artist. The school opened my mind to the potential that art holds as a legitimate career. I realized that art is everywhere and that opportunities were all around me. I also realized that in order for others to take me seriously, I had to take myself seriously. This meant eliminating the space between artwork and artist. This is no longer a simple pastime for me; it’s a way of living. My work is a part of me. I take it very seriously and am constantly working to improve and grow as an artist.
Who inspired you?
Outside of my parents and my art teachers I’ve been greatly inspired by my brother Bryan. We’re very close and he’s always been extremely supportive of my work. He’s often the first and last person I go to for critique.
What are your favourite mediums?
My medium of choice has been acrylic paint. I’m looking forward to delving into oil paint next fall at the U of S. I’ve always been a huge fan of colour so painting has often taken precedence over drawing. However, experimentation is crucial for my practice. I’ve explored time-based mediums working with sound and film. Music drives my creative flow. I’m also excited about returning to my roots and practising sculpture next fall. I want to get to a point as an artist that any medium can be used as a means for expression; that way I won’t be limited creatively. If an idea needs to be presented as film or needs to be a three-dimensional installation, I want to be able to do that. If the most successful materialization of an idea is as a painting, then that’s the medium I use. As an artist I’m driven by my ideas and the medium used needs to adequately represent my visions.
Where do you plan on going after university?
I am heading into my third year at the U of S. My intention is to finish my bachelor of fine arts in two years and stay local, promoting my artwork in Saskatoon. I don’t think leaving is necessary, with the popularity of the Internet. I would love to gain exposure across Canada and even internationally, and hope I can do that while maintaining a home base in Saskatoon. I need to live in a place that makes me feel comfortable, where I’m surrounded by family and friends. It’s essential for my creative output.
The four “spirit animal” pieces were sold to a collector at Fishing Lake First Nation. Where did they see your work?
The series The Grizzly Bear, The Golden Eagle, The Timber Wolf and The Sunshine Buffalo were commissioned by a collector after a visit to my only current permanent gallery – my father’s house. He is very enthusiastic and a great promoter of my artwork.
Will you be having any exhibits in the near future?
I’m in the process of conceptualizing a show right now that I would like to exhibit toward the end of the summer. It will be a mixed media show that utilizes sculpture, painting and sound. The series of works will interrogate the idea of human memory and recollection.
Brandon Panasiuk is the son of Spine Design’s David Panasiuk, and the grandson of Wadena residents Betty and Anton Panasiuk.