1944 Born in North Bay, Ontario, Canada
1966 Graduate of Sir George Williams' School of Art, Montreal
1972-73 Commissioned to create a portfolio of ten colour lithographs in Paris, France (supported by the Canada Council)
1975-76 Commissioned to create a sequence of five colour lithographs in London (supported by the Ontario Arts Council)
1976 Commissioned by the Art Gallery of Ontario to create the 'Glacial Erratic Sculpture' on the campus of Canadore College and Nipissing University, North Bay (supported by the Ontario Arts Council)
1977 Co-founder and active member of White Water (artist run) centre, North Bay
1987 Juror, Grants to Individual Artists Adjudication, Ontario Arts Council
1987 Canadian Artist at Artists' Meeting, Studenica Monastery, Yugoslavia
1987 Member, advisory group examining the Evaluation Program, Ontario Arts Council
1988-89 Research Assistant and Visiting Artist at the Slade School of Art, London
1989-94 Director/Curator/Artist in Residence, WKP Kennedy Gallery, North Bay
1990-93 Member, Art Advisory Committee, City of North Bay Art Collection
1991 Juror, Grants to Individual Artists Adjudication, Ontario Arts Council
1991 Organiser 'The Nipissing People', early photographs of residents of Nipissing Reservation, curated by Randy Sawyer, Indian Friendship Centre, North Bay
1991-93 Member, Board of Directors, Visual Arts Centre, Toronto
1992 Commissioned by the Government of Ontario to paint 'Building a Normal School' for the atrium of the Ministry of Correctional Services Headquarters, and 'Portage of a Pointer' for the entrance foyer of the North Bay and District Court House, North Bay
1993 Adviser and Juror, Waterfront Sculpture Project, Les Compagnons des Francs Loisir (Francophone Community Centre), North Bay
1993 Artist in Residence at Fringe Research, Toronto, creating two hologram sculptures (supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council)
1994-95 Co-founded and helped establish the Redpath Gallery, Vancouver
1996 Curator (part time), The Redpath Collection, Vancouver
1996 Member, Fine Arts Advisory Committee, Georgian College, Barrie
1997 Director/Curator/Artist in Residence, WKP Gallery, North Bay
1998 Member, Advisory Committee examining funding procedures for Public Art Galleries, Ontario Arts Council, Ontario
1998 Member, Board of Directors, Ontario Association of Art Galleries, Toronto
Dennis Geden is a Canadian artist, born in 1944 in Northern Canada. He is a graduate of Sir George Williams' School of Art, Montreal 1966. He began his career as a professional fine artist with a critically acclaimed series of solo exhibitions of paintings at La Cimaise Gallery, Toronton, in 1970, '71 and '72. Geden has benefited from arts funding grants from the Ontario Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts. He continues to create, and has presented numerous commercial, alternate, and public gallery exhibitions. Dennis Geden spends time between London, UK and Toronto, Canada. He continues to maintain his primary studio in North Bay, Ontario, Canada.
Dennis Geden in his Studio in North Bay, Ontario
" My first encounter with Geden's paintings was during a 1994 exhibition at Redpath Gallery in Vancouver. In my review of that show for The Georgia Straight I noted "there is a nice complexity to Dennis Geden's paintings, a niceness that comes from the blandly affable literalness of his portraits of children and historical figures, and a complexity that becomes more and more apparent as you discover there are multiple entry points into the imagined worlds they inhabit."
In a subsequent interview with Geden, I learned that some of my sense of uncertainty about his work was due to his use of a double perspective. He paints his figures at eye-level, looking straight at the face and, simultaneously, as if he could see through the figure's eyes looking down at the ground. The result is an unsettling viewpoint, hovering on the edge of spatial disorientation but held down by the rationalism of his diagrammatic blocking and unfussy surfaces.
In the catalogue accompanying the Go Figure exhibition, curator Donald C Scott describes Geden's work habits: "Geden typically begins the creation of an oil paintings with a series of small drawings and watercolours. Working with numerous sketches, he adds, subtracts and combines elements until the idea of the subject jells. Then, choosing a canvas, he tapes paper over the entire surface and begins a large scale version of the small drawing. By cutting and taping and adding fresh layers of paper, all elements in the composition are malleable. The position of the feet and arms, the tilt of the head, the background elements, even the angle of perspective might change numerous times until he is satisfied with the composition. Then, like a Renaissance cartoon, the drawing is carefully traced onto the canvas and the work with pigment is begun."
As a working process, his composition technique bears some resemblance to Alex Colville's scrupulously methodical approach, but Geden dismisses any suggestion that he has been directly influenced by Colville, Christopher Pratt, Ken Danby, or other artists working in the Canadian realist tradition. His devotion to figurative painting goes back to an early, perhaps iconoclastic decision to go it alone.
Geden was born and raised in North Bay, Ontario, where individualism and imagination are necessary strategies for survival. Although his art training and travels have periodically taken him away from home, his artistic vision has matured in the relative isolation of a northern mining town, away from art world trends. When he graduated in 1966 from Sir George Williams School of Art in Montreal, representational figurative paintings was decidedly outre. Ironically, thirty years later, figurative painting is once again fashionable, furnishing a language for gender issues, feminism, and the body as political zone.
"I like the subject to seem to have arrived from somewhere. If the suspended image started moving it would carry on to somewhere else. The painting works best when the viewer sees this also, and can sense the feeling of time, with infinity on either side," Geden explained in the artist's statement for his first London exhibition at Canada House. Critic Beatrice Phillpotts, writing for Art Review magazine about that 1984 exhibition, obliquely noted Geden's ability to disconcert. "A teasing ambiguous edge is a central ingredient of Geden's work and it combines with the ugly humanoid aspect of the figures to make the paintings uncomfortably compulsive," Phillpott commented.
I would dispute Phillpott's un-beautiful assessment of Geden's almost genderless bodies. Instead of considering them in terms of actual human representation, I suggest they be interpreted as pragmatic, conciliatory and ultimately very Canadian images - of seeing from both sides and passing judgement on neither."
Dr Edward Gibson, Director of the Simon Fraser Gallery, offers a more poetic evaluation: "There seems to be not one narrative but a range of stories, some real, and some surreal that we may read into the picture space. Yet, the narratives are not arranged as they are in the typical post-modern work of art: that is, they are not layered in a hierarchy designed for both elite and popular viewers. His images are more enigmatic than that; their meaning is constantly shifting, shifting the way that meanings shift when we attempt to verbalize a dream."
Paula Gustafson, 1996.
Extract from "Dennis Geden Go Figure - 30-year Retrospective Exhibition" (toured six venues in Canada from May 1996 to July 1997).
Dennis Geden was born in 1944 in North Bay, Ontario, Canada where he still lives. He is a figurative artist, the meaning of whose visually legible work is deliberately ambiguous and open to interpretation.
By the age of twenty-two, Geden was a graduate of Sir George Williams' School of Art, Montreal. In 1988-89 he was a research assistant at the Slade School, London. He has enjoyed the support of the Canada Council and the Ontario Arts Council and played a considerable role in the Canadain art world, as artist in residence, gallery curator and director, juror and board member.
Dennis Geden first showed at the Redfern Gallery in 1984 - showing again in 1996 and 2000. Some twenty institution collections, including the Tate Gallery, own works.
1970/71/72/73 La Cimaise Presents: Dennis Geden, La Cimaise Gallery, Toronto, Ontario
1977 Current Work, White Water Gallery, North Bay Ontario
1979 Current Work, White Water Gallery, North Bay Ontario
1980 Dennis Geden, Art Gallery of Peterborough, Ontario
1981 Current Work, White Water Gallery, North Bay Ontario
1981 Dennis Geden, Laurentian University Museum and Art Centre, Sudbury, Ontario
1983 Current Work, White Water Gallery, North Bay Ontario
1984 Dennis Geden: First London Exhibitions, Canada House, London and Redfern Gallery, London (curated by Griselda Bear and assisted by Canadian External Affairs)
1984 Watercolours of Canadian Artist Dennis Geden, Redfern Gallery, London
1984 Dennis Geden, Saw Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario
1984 Dennis Geden, K.A.A.I. Gallery, Kingston, Ontario
1985 Dennis Geden, Le Centre Culturel Canadien, Paris (assisted by Canadian External Affairs)
1986 Dennis Geden, Maclaurin Gallery, Ayr, Scotland (assisted by Canadian Cultural Affairs)
1987 Dennis Geden: Recent Painting, Ontario tour (curated by Pamela Krueger and toured to Laurentian University Museum and At Centre Sudbury; Art Gallery of Peterborough, Peterborough; McIntosh Gallery, University of Western Ontario, London; The Gallery and Library, Cambridge; Art Gallery of York University, Toronto
1991 Dennis Geden: New Work from Canada, Maclaurin Gallery, Ayr, Scotland
1991 Artist in Residence Exhibition, WKP Kennedy Gallery, North Bay
1992 Dennis Geden: New Work, Laurentian University Museum & Art Centre, Sudbury, ON (curated by Pamela Krueger)
1992 Dennis Geden: New Work from Canada, Art Gallery of Peterborough, Peterborough, ON
1994 Dennis Geden: Paintings, Redpath Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1994 Believing becomes Seeing: Dennis Geden, Hy Aisenstat Contemporary Arts Studio, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver (curated by Edward Gibson)
1996 Dennis Geden: New Works, Redfern Gallery, London
1996-97 Go Figure: Dennis Geden, Retrospective Exhibition, Canadian tour (curated by Donald C Scott and Edward Gibson and organised by WKP Kennedy Art Gallery, North Bay ON). Toured to: WKP Kennedy Art Gallery, North Bay, ON; Art Gallery of Algoma, Sault Ste, Marie, ON; Simon Fraser University Art Gallery, Burnaby BC; Yukon Arts Centre, Whitehorse, YUKON; Laurentian University Museum and Art Centre, Sudbury, ON; MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, ON
1997 Expanded Go Figure: Dennis Geden, Retrospective and current work, Anderson Gallery, Buffalo, New York, USA
1997 Joan Ferneyhough Gallery, North Bay, ON
1997 White Water Gallery, North Bay, ON
1998 Dennis Geden: Paintings, Joan Ferneyhough Gallery, North Bay, ON
1999 Dennis Geden: New Work, Gallery Moos, Toronto, ON
2000 Dennis Geden, Redfern Gallery, London
2001-02 Dennis Geden: From the Height of Land, exhibition of recent paintings touring to Public Galleries and Museums
2005 Dennis Geden: New Works, Redfern Gallery, London
2005 Dennis Geden: Survey, Remy Toledo Gallery, New York City, USA
2008 Dennis Geden: New Paintings, Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario, Canada
2009 Dennis Geden: Paintings 2000 to 2009, a Survey, Mineta Contemporary, Brussels Belgium
1976 Seventh International Triennial, Haldenschulhaus, Grenchen, Switzerland
1978 Strictly People Exhibition, tour of Canadian Government buildings in the United States (toured to: Canadian Embassy, Washington DC; Canadian Consulate, Atlanta, Georgia; Canadian Consulate, Boston, Massachusetts; Canadian Consulate, Chicago, Illinois
1984 Intergrafik, Berlin, Germany
1984 Ontario Art on View, Ontario House, Brussels
1987 Paintings of People, Memorial University Art Gallery, St Johns, Newfoundland
1995 Mysteries of the Flesh, Dome Tower, Calgary, Alberta (curated by Jeffrey Spalding and organised by Lethbridge University Art Gallery, Lethbridge, Alberta
1996 The Body, Bau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver
1996 Gallery Moos, Toronto
1997 Gallery Moos, Toronto, ON
1998 Gallery Artists, Gallery Moos, Toronto, ON
1999 Winter, The Redfern Gallery, London, England
2000 Summer Group Show, The Redfern Gallery, London, England
2001 Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London, England
2002 Summer Group Show, The Redfern Gallery, London, England
2003 Modern Art, The Redfern Gallery, London, England
2004 Redfern Artists, The Redfern Gallery, London, England
2005 Summer Show, The Redfern Gallery, London, England
2006 Gallery Moos, Toronto, Ontario
2006 The Redfern Gallery, London, England
2007 Gallery Moos, Toronto, Ontario
2008 Mineta Contemporary, Brussels at Toronto International Art Fair, Toronto, Ontario
2008 Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London, England
2009 Gallery Artists, Gallery Moos, Toronto, Ontario