Winlaw's Graham Gilmore talks about his exhibit at Touchstones Nelson

Graham Gillmore outside his Winlaw studio - submitted photo
Graham Gillmore outside his Winlaw studio
— image credit: submitted photo

From seductive poured paint surfaces to dense stacks of roughly drawn, encircled letters, Graham Gilmore’s work has wide aesthetic appeal.

The highly controlled router-carved block letters of his panel works contrast with the loose-line quality of his paintings on canvas, described by artist William Rand “as if painted by the trunk of a baby elephant learning how to spell.”

The fragmented messages relayed in his paintings often contain a circular logic and searing irony, using humour and quick-fire wit to counter an undercurrent of cynicism and discontent.

His exhibit I Love You, In Theory at Touchstones Nelson will feature a collection of works spanning his 30-year career. Included are his iconic text-based paintings on panel, canvas and paper, alongside sculptures.

Vurb caught up with Gillmore by email to talk about his local exhibit. Here’s what he said...


On 30 years history making art:

The work is constantly evolving both stylistically and conceptually, but I do revisit past motifs and maintain an allegiance to some fundamental underlying themes, such as attempting to expose the complexities of the human experience, the politics of interpersonal relationships, and the nature of communication itself. Drawing and painting has been my mainstay, but I also dabble in sculpture using found objects.


On the use of text in his work:

I was making figurative work in art school but quickly grew tired of trying to figure out what things ‘looked’ like. However, I still wanted to tell stories. That’s where the text came in. The written word is a self-contained machine but also allows for a narrative thread. I am interested in the indeterminacy of language, and gravitate toward open ended texts with multiple meanings. The phrases I use are often dualistic, vacillating between hope and doubt, cynicism and humor, life and death.


On what he hopes viewers will take away:

I hope the viewer will take away from the show several smaller works on paper and maybe a couple of larger canvases, because I’m running out of room in my studio.


On moving from New York City to Winlaw:

I moved to NYC in 1986 and spent my formative years in the Lower East Side where you could still get mugged at a reasonable rate. When my son moved to the Kootenays 10 years ago, I discovered Winlaw and fell in love with the landscape and the  heated conversations between hippes and loggers at the Hungry Wolf Cafe. I’ve always been drawn to  the center of the universe or the middle of nowhere. Once again, my double life saves the day.


I Love You, In Theory runs March 2 to June 9 at Touchstones, with an opening reception on Friday, March 1 from 7 to 9 p.m. as part of Blue Night.

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