Dennis Tourbin: The Language of Visual Poetry

Opening Reception at ARTSPACE
Friday September 12, 2014 - 12am to Friday September 12, 2014 - 12am

  • Dennis Tourbin in his studio in Paris, France with painted text from Paris, La Nuit, A Painted Play, 1982. © Nadia Laham, 1982.
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  • Dennis Tourbin in his studio in Paris, France with painted text from Paris, La Nuit, A Painted Play, 1982. © Nadia Laham, 1982.
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Presented by the Art Gallery of Peterborough at ARTSPACE

Exhibition and Reception at ARTSPACE
3/378 Aylmer Street North, Peterborough

Dennis Tourbin
The Language of Visual Poetry
Curated by Marcie Bronson
Organized and circulated by Rodman Hall Art Centre/Brock University

Goodnight Irene
Curated by Su Ditta

A pioneer of interdisciplinary practice in Canada, Dennis Tourbin produced a distinctive body of work integrating the written word with painting, drawing, video, and performance in an exploration of language and meaning. Conscious of how the immediacy of film and television changed the way we see, Tourbin viewed the printed word as an endangered species and sought to give it a new visual form, working in what he described as “the area between painting and literature.”

This exhibition presents Tourbin’s “painted play” Paris, la Nuit, a one-man multimedia performance incorporating paintings, stage props, slides, audio, and video. Part documentarian and part storyteller, Tourbin characteristically blurs the line between personal experience and public events in this work that “takes you on a charming, romantic excursion through the City of Light, introducing you to a Paris as exciting as you have always imagined.” On opening night, St. Catharines-based actor Edwin Conroy Jr. performs as Tourbin in an excerpt of the work produced by Niagara Artists Centre. Alongside this installation, an extensive program curated by respected Media Arts Curator Su Ditta celebrates the diversity of video works Tourbin produced throughout his career.

Born in 1946 and raised in St. Catharines, Ontario, Dennis Tourbin was a poet and self-taught artist. His work has been widely exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout Canada and in Europe, and is held in major Canadian institutions including the National Gallery of Canada. He published numerous books of poetry and novels including The Port Dalhousie Stories (Coach House Press, 1987), a chronicle of growing up in St. Catharines in the 1960s. A fervent arts activist, Tourbin played a vital role in artist-run culture in Ontario as a founding member of Niagara Artists’ Co-op (now Niagara Artists Centre) in St. Catharines (1969), a founding member of ARTSPACE in Peterborough (1974), Spokesperson for Canadian Artists Representation Ontario (1977-79), and Director of Gallery 101 in Ottawa (1986-87). Tourbin died in 1998 at the age of 51.