Graham Gillmore Foreign Relations

Works in the exhibition

Whether through digital upload or in verbal communication, a small, if not significant, amount of information is lost when transferred. We could search in vain for what’s vanished, mourning the original, or, as Gillmore suggests, we can celebrate the incipience of its corrupted form. Gillmore works at the interstice of mishearing, pointing to the lyricism of these verbal contortions, while toiling with emotional murk that failed communication inevitably produces. In Foreign Relations, nouns are twisted and stretched, returned in their animated state as verbs. A co-op—mutualized enterprise—re-appears as co-opted, seemingly aware of its semantic hijacking.

The lush paintings in Foreign Relations exude a resolutely cool demeanor. Oil paint in crimson red and tufts of blue resist their fossilization under a glossy urethane shell, shifting and spreading like a nebulous mass. Both language and gestural mark have heft; the former incised via a die grinder rotary tool, indexed like an excavated brush stroke and the latter poured, so that words and paint become object-like. At other moments, painted letters on canvas are individually framed, underlining their typification. This act halts the stringing of letters into words, and words into phrases—form and content cancelling each other.

Taken together, these paintings call to mind a mediatized landscape, like a highway of arresting billboards or a sea of pop-up ads, they actively seek our attention, a singular cohesive message spayed by density and interpretation. The implied promise is that objects, surrogated by striking images and catchy taglines, work for us, make us better. As Michel Serres proposed, “the subject arises from the object”. And yet, as Gillmore’s paintings clearly invoke, objects and words, more often than not, stand between us, not for us—props and script for Gillmore’s waggish tragicomedy. 

Graham Gillmore’s work can be found in permanent collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Ghent Museum, Gian Enzo Sperone, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, RCA Records, The Royal Bank of Canada, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. He has been featured in publications such as Canadian Art, W Magazine, Art News, ArtForum, L.A. Weekly, C Magazine, and the New York Times Magazine.

For more information on the artist