Artist Marc Gagne in conversation with Fashion Designer Hailey Wyatt
I have been working for several years on a series of works involving recycled books and
encaustic, with collage or assemblage of many diverse found materials. Many of the pieces
incorporated a technique of covering old books with encaustic paint which I then melted off,
leaving “weathered” surfaces and myriad surface accidents.
These works had grown more complex and satisfying but at the same time I felt the need to
keep moving on, and to simplify, and to add colour (oil paint). While isolating in 2021, I
executed a small series of assemblage pieces that started off with some found yellow sheet
metal, and to incorporate a lot of red and yellow oil paint, with virtually no books or encaustic.
I took a brief pause from this series to execute a series of large “circle” pieces involving doors
and books as well as sheet metal, for a solo show at the Shenkman Art Center. Anyone looking
at these can see that they are grid based, as books are essentially rectangles.
After this show and upon completion of the white piece, “Ghost (2022_04_10)”, I felt that I had
finished with the circles for now and wanted to revisit a more geometric style, and use oil paint
with more minimal assemblage. I decided to (for the most part) limit myself to oil paint with
sheet metal. Stripes and squares would be essential compositional elements. I would permit
myself certain collage elements like ceramic tiles but eliminate many other recent items such as
photographs, letters and numbers.
I must add that I have always been drawn to found objects and have always felt the need to
incorporate them in my work. This started when as a young art student, recently arrived in
Toronto to attend OCA, I found a treasure trove of material on the streets almost daily. I also
discovered the world of back laneways and alleyways, with their weathered surfaces and
I am currently using sheet metal such as old roofing tin as my choice of found material. I find
the contrast between lush painted areas and weathered sheet metal very satisfying. I don’t
think that I can work strictly with paint alone but perhaps that is a challenge for the future.