The next artist we’re highlighting on our ongoing Artists You Need to Know is an appropriate choice: Rodman Hall Art Centre just released a fine publication (Dennis Tourbin: The Language of Visual Poetry) highlighting Dennis Tourbin‘s practice and importance. He offered the following about his practice: “The development of my art has been an exploration of the complex visual dimensions contained within language.”



Dennis Tourbin helped shape the artistic community in Niagara as a visual artist, writer, cultural worker and activist, as well as a mentor to many. His works were often political, and are a significant visual history of not just this region, but Canada as well. His legacy can be seen in both the gallery space named for him at Niagara Artists Centre (NAC), but also with the Dennis Tourbin Fund for Emerging Artists (through Ottawa Arts Council and Galerie SAW Gallery).

Dennis Tourbin is perhaps best known for his many works focused upon the October Crisis, “in which he turned newspaper headlines about terrorist activities in Quebec into iconic images on canvas. But he also created various series of watercolours, artist books, word paintings, performance art, and videos.” (Paul Gessel)


That’s just touching the surface of his accomplishments: so much more information can be found through the portals of places such as National Gallery of Canada or Art Gallery of Peterborough.


His essay An Incomplete History of Contemporary Canadian Art, A Parallel Point of view or Art According To Gossip (1979 – 1981) can also be enjoyed at this link. Tourbin was an accomplished writer and poet, and several of his books combine words and images, and bring the same irreverent sense of play, and challenging expectations, as his visual works often explored.