January 30, 2011

Tom Hopkins 1944-2011

Tom Hopkins and me (back in my skinny days)
at the opening of my show La Vie immédiate in 2000

When I was studying with Tom at Concordia, 18 years ago, he brought me a cartoon he had found in a newspaper, showing a grungy artist asking his accountant if drug could be considered artist's material.

I don't know about that, but right now I definitely feel like I could use something…

That was Tom, always sharing jokes with everybody. Even recently he sent me a youtube link towards a stand up comedian talking about French people… (link)

Tom and I at a great gathering we had at his country place last August
Photo by Fabian Jean

It is a cliché when someone passes away to talk about their generosity, but in Tom's case, it would be a crime not to mention it over and over again.

I was Tom's student, then his assistant for many years and his studio neighbour for more then 10 years. I can say that working for him I have learned more about being a painter than throughout my whole art education. That was Tom, the most generous person I have known with his knowledge, his advices, his time. When I was working for him, stretching canvases and so on, I joked with him that he didn't need a studio assistant, he needed a secretary to take care of his phone calls.

When our studios were door to door, we had each other's key. We used each other's tools, which means mostly that I was using his tools, and I would come over to drink his coffee and eat his famous studio stew. Tom's door was literally always open for me but it was the same with all the artists and all the students who needed advices. It is true for me and I know it is true for many of us: I would not be the painter that I am if it was not for Tom.

Tom's death is a tragedy for all of us. We lost someone important, but my thoughts go out to you Joan, Anna and Jacob.

The only comfort that we can share is to know that through his actions, Tom is definitely an important part of us. It is now up to us to keep his vision alive, to share our knowledge, to help each other in this difficult career that is ours and to keep sharing the jokes that make the hard times bearable.

Thank you Tom.

It was a true honour for me to share this obituary at Tom's funeral yesterday.