Layering, combining, concealment, and transformation are themes mixed media artist Marc Gagne explores in his exhibition ‘Second Reading’ at the AOE Gallery. This exhibition focuses on Gagne’s grid pieces that incorporate books as a material amidst his signature use of unusual found objects, paint, oil, and encaustic techniques.
The grids are a continuing series for Gagne, and the inclusion of books as a recognizable element is an inclusion inspired by the found objects, scraps, and repurposed materials themselves. Gagne says the initial inspiration for ‘Second Reading’ was of accessibility at the time in his studio. Relying on readily available material lets Gagne continue to elaborate on the grids by consistently introducing or re-introducing various objects, that consequently allows himself to consider new discoveries and his artwork to take on new interpretations. Working with rectangular forms consistently in the past, it seems a natural progression for Gagne to combine the books onto the panels. The incorporation of books as a material in the grids, Gagne notes, begins to inform the dialogue of the artwork and open the work to further interpretation. The inclusion of the books was not necessarily for their literary connotation. Gagne explains that they are included as a raw material and considered for their colour, composition, and even certain typography. Juxtaposed with materials such as speakers, barn-board, and old wood from windows and doors, he creates a fresh dialogue between the objects as they are re-presented to the viewer.
Composition is an important element in Gagne’s geometric pieces. He approaches layering and combining using techniques such as burning, encaustic and assemblage to achieve the weathered appearance. This attraction to the ‘worn-in’ aesthetic is due to his exposure to a big city in the midst of urban renewal. Living in Toronto during the 1980s, Gagne was exposed to industrial textures and surfaces, and the readily available materials that were being left by the curb during a time of inner-city renovation. Living in this environment for a while, Gagne became interested in erosion, decay, and weathering as a natural phenomenon seen in the back alleyways and downtown core of Toronto, and consequently developed a visual language to express these themes.
Currently working and living in Ottawa, Gagne has always been interested in working with mixed media. An alumni of the Ontario College of Art (now Ontario College of Art & Design), Gagne was exposed to the influences of, among others, Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, while artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg were significant references, as well as Canadians like Gordon Rayner and Michael Snow. These influences combined with his continuing curiosity of substance and composition has taken Gagne through his artistic practice and allowed his artwork to evolve naturally. Excited by art’s openness for interpretation, in his cleverly collected exhibition ‘Second Reading’ the viewer will definitely want to return for a third or fourth.
“Second Reading” Mixed media exhibition by Marc Gagne
On exhibition : May 29-July 8
Vernissage: June 1
AOE Gallery, 245 Centrum Blvd. Ottawa (Ontario)
Annie has been involved with AOE Arts Council as a Programs Assistant and now as a the youth representative on the Board of Directors. She has developed a passion for connecting and contributing to the arts community . Her involvement with the AOE Gallery has given her the opportunity to connect with artists directly, and glean their interesting inspirations, influences, and intentions that she shares as a contributor to Accolade. Currently studying Fine Arts at the University of Ottawa, Annie is a practicing photo-based artist with an interest in analog processes. As an artist, she approaches each project knowledgeably, with creativity, and an openness to the variety of what the Ottawa arts scene has to offer.