Once described as a one-man civilization by the late poet and playwright James Reaney, bill bissett, now 74, shows no signs of crumbling. A protean figure in the Vancouver interdisciplinary art scene of the 1960s, the southern Ontario resident continues to draw, paint and deliver his poems with the energy and gusto of an artist a third his age.
In what promises to be the first exhaustive retrospective of his work, co-curator Dr. Carl Peters has helped to gather the full range of bissetts 50+ years of literary and visual art output. Viewers can expect to find early copies of bissett and Martina Clintons seminal blewointment magazine (19621970); bissetts appearance in Maurice Embras compelling National Film Board documentary portrait Strange Grey Day This (1966); a cross-section of the artists brightly coloured canvasses; and dusty assemblages such as Breath Box (1969).
With local art practices once again showing signs of post-hyphenation, this exhibition will be of particular interest to anyone curious to see where art might be headed next, to say nothing of seeing what was possible at a time when the city in which bissett emerged was not that dissimilar from the one we know today.