“All of the Above: Works by Greg Lamarche” at Graffiti Gallery
by Lisa Kehler
When graffiti moves from the street into the gallery, there is often mixed reaction. Despite the fact that its very essence springs from an anti-establishment mentality, Graffiti Gallery in Winnipeg, Manitoba is devoted specifically to the principles associated with this form of street art. “All of the Above: Works by Greg Lamarche” (16 May-5 July 2013) further confirms that the division between high and low art may no longer apply to this medium.
Lamarche’s work is anchored in counter-culture history. The artist is a product of the New York graffiti scene of the early 1990s. In 1992, he launched the magazine Skills, a cut-and-paste effort that was a collection of photocopied images of graffiti. Finding a voice in collage seemed a natural progression.
Lamarche’s works are marked by a highly stylized interpretation of typography, a standard in graffiti writing. He is known for crisp lines, solid fills, and striking colour choices, which he applies to his collage work with delicate cuts and extremely precise placement. In his artist statement, Lamarche cites his recent collage work as having an increasing influence on the way he creates letters and paints walls.
At the gallery, massive brick walls are saturated with murals, prints hang from metal pipes, and ink drawings are tacked to a floating black wall. The exhibition includes collages, sculpture, and a site-specific installation. Typically, when an artist breaks through to a new style, he leaves behind his past styles. That is not the case with Lamarche. The art on view traces the evolution of Lamarche’s style through work created within the last few years. His ability to glide back and forth between them all is noteworthy. Lamarche’s creativity is channeled seamlessly and prolifically between collage, painting, drawing and sculpture.
In Lamarche’s collages, letters have a two-fold function: they represent their alphabetic utility, but once assembled on canvas, they are re-envisioned as pure abstract forms. In The I’s Have It (2008), the letter I appears in countless colours, shapes, and sizes. Lamarche’s configuration creates a form that mirrors the rise and fall of an EKG wave.
A key work in the exhibition is Italy (2012) from the “City to City” series. Six panels worth of paper scrapings from walls in Venice are assembled. Peeled layers reveal patterns, letters and varying textures hidden underneath. The collaged panels are hung horizontally in a tight fashion, resulting in a clever recreation of a mini buffed wall. Italy is the embodiment of Lamarche’s career: creating art from the street that easily transitions to the gallery.
109 Higgins Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0B5 Canada
Monday, Tuesday, Friday, 9AM-5PM
Wednesday, Thursday, 9AM-9PM
Italy from the “City to City” Series
by Greg Lamarche
paper collage on wood panel
Courtesy of Graffiti Gallery and the artist