Henri Robideau
Vancouver, Canada
Photo: Henri Robideau
Henri Robideau - photo by Henri Robideau

Henri Robideau is a photographer and cultural narrator whose practice is grounded in history and animated by the events of our times. His lifelong involvement in photography incorporates more than fifty years of teaching, professional production for many of Canada’s leading artists and personal art creation incorporating photographic imagery and handwritten narrative text.

Born 1946 in Bristol, Connecticut, he grew up in New England, North Carolina and California, where his teen years were spent in the booming post WWII suburbs of San Diego county. In university he studied chemistry at San Diego State College for two years but dropped out and moved in 1966 to the Bay Area, pursuing a life in the arts. He trained as a commercial photographer at Laney College in Oakland, before emigrating to Vancouver in 1970 as a refugee from the violence of America and as the fulfillment of a promise to his grandfather to someday return to the land of his ancestors.

His first Canadian job as photo-technician for the Vancouver Public Library Historical Photograph Section, provided an immersion into Vancouver’s visual history and introduced him to the work of photographer Mattie Gunterman. In 1976 he left the world of archives and researched Mattie Gunterman’s life, producing an exhibition of her work that toured 26 venues and led to the 1995 publication of her historical biography, Flapjacks & Photographs.

In 1980 he launched a decade-long project The Pancanadienne Gianthropological Survey, crisscrossing Canada in search of monumental human activity and the true meaning of Canada. After producing a series of sixty large scale black and white panoramic photographs he moved to Montreal in 1987 to work on the eastern side of the Survey. On July 14, his second day in Montreal, his panoramas were destroyed in a flood. His lost work was later celebrated in the publication Canada’s Gigantic! Four years in Montreal came to an end with attending the events at Oka, followed by a trip to Japan he’d been putting off since he was 9. The Pancanadienne Gianthropological Survey went largely unfinished after amassing more than 1500 panoramas, but out of it came 500 Fun Years a narrative on Colonialism done for the 1992 500th anniversary of resistance.

In 1991 he moved back to Vancouver working for Green Peace photographer Robert Keziere out of Jack Shadbolt’s old studio on Cambie Street providing photographic services and productions for Canada’s leading artists, galleries and publications. He also taught photography at Emily Carr College of Art as a sessional for the next 25 years. For the past thirty years his practice has been in the form of multi panel photographic montages with holographic text. Sometimes this work is an introspective reflection on the ironic tragedy of human existence, as is the case with the two series The Crossroads Of Life and Acts Of God. Other times history and politics provide the narrative as in the millennial snapshot, Four Directions of the Okanagan, and most recently the anecdotal account of 40 years of Vancouver development, Eraser Street.

Henri Robideau’s photography has been exhibited and collected both in Canada and internationally. He lives and works in Vancouver respectfully on the unceded ancestral territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Peoples.

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Henri Robideau
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