"…I am concerned with working on the horizontal level, ground level, integrating it as a part of the sculpture. You get the feeling that my sculptures rise out of the ground or else sink into it… The ground is no longer a neutral space: it’s the space that the sculpture and the viewer share."
Sculptor Roland Poulin combines the figurative and the abstract in works illustrating themes of life, love, death and spirituality. Shapes representing tombs, tables and altars are set in compositions that incorporate empty space. Formed from concrete, wood and bronze, Poulin’s work is characterized by its horizontality and weightiness.
Roland Poulin grew up primarily in Montréal, where an encounter with a painting by Borduas provided inspiration. After graduating from Montréal’s École des Beaux-Arts in 1969, Poulin worked as an assistant to Mario Merola. Early in his career, he experimented with the dematerialization movement, but soon felt a desire to portray weight with heavy materials: first concrete, then wood and bronze. A 1972 trip to Germany gave him formative exposure to American Minimalist artists. Later, Poulin made visits to cemeteries in New England and Paris, as well as to an exhibition of Ancient Egyptian sarcophagi in New York. He found in these monuments the sculptural forms, empty spaces and implied human presence that inspired later sculptures.
Poulin’s early concrete sculptures include Within. Later works in wood, such as Sombre, illustrate his growing interest in tombs and the night. More recent pieces, such as Thresholds, are increasingly spiritual and sensual.
Poulin has taught drawing and sculpture at numerous colleges and universities. Widely exhibited internationally, Poulin is a Governor General's Award winner and recipient of the Prix Ozias-Leduc, the Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award, and the Jean A. Chalmers Award.