An aging artist needs a hand to complete his final painting.
Louis Grant, a Hungarian immigrant who immigrated to Canada in the 1950s, began sketching a design onto the canvas more than two years ago. It’s now time to apply the paint, and because 87-year-old Grant has arthritis, he’s in need of a steadier hand to stroke the brush.
Similar to Leonardo da Vinci, Grant will be crafting much of the oil painting by using his fingers, so he’s only in need of assistance with the brushing.
He said the shading has been perfected to work as a colour guide, which will be replicated to the original painting 100 per cent.
The subject of the painting is Maria Theresa, the former Queen of Hungary. Grant admires Theresa for keeping the people of Hungary safe during the 1700s while conflict was rampant throughout Europe. She also modernized civil rights within Hungary, such as her decision to outlaw the burning of witches.
Before he could even start sketching it, the image Grant is basing his portrait of Theresa on had to be mailed from a family friend in Hungary, which left Grant waiting two-to-three years.
No matter the scale or pace that it unfolds, Grant enjoys bearing witness to the development of history, whether it’s modern or ancient.
As the Cold War was intensifying following the Second World War, Grant – who identifies as a Freedom Fighter – left Soviet-occupied Hungary for Canada in 1956.
“Freedom Fighting can happen anywhere,” he said, Canada notwithstanding. “You fight for what you believe. And for me it was against slavery.”
He said he made the move across the Atlantic to achieve freedom, but ended up feeling oppressed because he didn’t fit in socially.
“There’s too much brooding in peoples’ minds.”
After facing decades of despair from colleagues who had little tolerance for his thick European accent, Grant’s spirit has been broken and he no longer has the drive to fight for freedom.
However, he still calls Canada home and enjoys the vast beauty found in the wilderness.
But while it’s easy to feel safe living in Canada, Grant said geopolitical problems are all connected.
Consequently, he plans to pay homage to the former leader of his native country and have the portrait delivered to Sándor Palace in Hungary, which is the residence of the country’s president.
“It’s in me. You know when you know.”
Grant said much of his European education wasn’t recognized upon moving to Canada. He had experience as an electrician, plumber and woodsmith, among many other roles. But it was his work as a fashion designer that his career branched onto in Canada. Grant found work designing fur coats for members of the RCMP, and around 10 years ago, he enlisted in Emily Carr College of the Arts to study the arts – though he began work as a painter in 1970.
Grant claims to be a better cook than anyone in Penticton, and can offer his homemade meals to the painter who’s able to help. He can be contacted at 250-490-9607.