Turf One the flemish

with Jean Labourdette aka Turf One



“Turf is somewhat obsessed with Victorian-looking midgets sporting dandy facial hair, Russian icons, dead things of all sorts, carnival sideshows and seedy vermin-infested theatre stages. Technically, his paintings are reminiscent of the 15th century Flemish Primitives. Kind of.”

Something about “Turf One”:

Just a kid growing up…
I got the nickname when I was 12 or 13, as I was getting into the Parisian graffiti scene in the late eighties.

From Paris to Montreal: it has to do with inspiration?

I came to Montreal at first as a way to escape Paris and France, which I needed a serious break from at the time. Then, yeah, I guess I can say that I found inspiration in Montreal. Mostly because I found myself. This whole body of work that I started after moving here 13 years ago was born from that whole experience of leaving my homeland, arriving in an unknown place where I barely knew anybody and building a new life here, starting from scratch… It gave me the chance to find out who I really was as a person and to express that through my art.

Jean Labourdette Theater 5

Jean Labourdette Animated

Jean Labourdette Theater 2

What are the feelings of exhibiting in the street compared to the ones of hanging in the gallery?

Not the same kind of adrenaline rush, to begin with. The streets were always more of a playground to me… It was absolute freedom, plus the excitement of doing something “illegal”, a marginal act… It was more about the act and the experience than about the final product.

This is a world in search of lost innocence or of sin for its own sake?


Do you ever think that your works herald a bit the return of a medieval chaos?

I never thought of it that way. Maybe in a subconscious way, who knows?


What is the message of your monkeys?

Well, I don’t intendedly give them a specific purpose in a rational way. But the monkey is known as a symbol of the subconscious, and I definitely try as much as possible to paint using my own subconscious as a source of creation rather than from a rational and intellectual point… So I do think that in a way this is an image I give to my subconscious, a characterization of it.

Do you think there is still someone in the world who do not care to be famous?

Sure! My mom didn’t, for example…

Turf One Cover

How much the provocation has become important to draw attention on your message?

I don’t know… I really don’t try to offend people on purpose. I actually just paint what I want and don’t really worry about how different people will react to it.

What is the right soundtrack for your visions?

A gypsy J-Dilla.


Jean Labourdette Theater

Shining Darkness: A Portrait of Jean Labourdette