Ian’s work has always felt primal to us. So incredibly emotional, right down to the direct titles, temperament, and rich colors. He describes some of his art as “modern cave drawings, ” and as per usual, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Whether examining our darker hours, or simply wrestling with introspection related to the various dilemmas of personhood, Ian Gamache is unabashed, talented, and creates insatiably.
Hailing from a rural Manitoba and currently living in Montreal, the breadth of Ian’s art is wide. Keeping up with him on social media could spin one up, wondering not only how he creates as much as he does but how he’s becomes so adept, no matter what medium he’s working in. Seeing as how he didn’t start painting until he was 20, it’s incredible to think how much he has grown technically. He uses textures to create succinct, emotional landscapes, whose resignation precipitate a sense of calm; even if concurrent with defeat. Somehow, this feels hopeful to us. As rugged humans traipse over text, and land amid an artistic experience called “life”, we surely relate to the range of emotions they embody.
Whether painting, found elements, or photographs, Ian’s work is inherently relatable in a way that makes us feel a little less crazy. We appreciate his honesty, perspective, and that he took the time to answer these questions for IPaintMyMind… cuz we think he’s a bit of a genius.
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There is a stark simplicity to your work that is disarming. How did you arrive at your current style? Did you experiment with other mediums?
I think that there has been a general trajectory in my visual art experiences; I’ve always been open to experimentation, but I believe that the ethic and aesthetics have remained consistent. I didn’t start painting until I was about 20, and my first interest was abstract painting, and it started to become more figurative as I evolved. I’ve always worked with a variety of materials: general art supplies, but also found objects, wood, collage, and pretty much whatever is available. These days I prefer making something that is light-weight and somewhat portable. I also take a lot of photographs and experiment with video and digital pieces.
We’re also big fans of collage and mixed media, what draws you most to adding these elements to your artworks?
Probably because of the availability of printed material; I think collage and mixed media are really art forms of this time. Using lefts-overs from the ‘print’ age makes sense. As I evolve I try more and more to hide and cover the collaged elements; to really work them into the new piece, rather then having those elements merely referencing something else.
Whether a flower, or some other add-on, these other materials play a central role in conveying the emotion of the work. And actually, many of your titles refer to certain emotional states that I think we all deal with…
Yes, I think my art works have become more emotional. They reflect a lot of my own experiences and the variety of emotions I’ve gone through in the last few years; but I am also a big believer in empathy, and having empathy with others in situations, and imagining myself in others shoes and different emotional states. I try to put all that into my drawings and paintings. I think my earlier works were more reflections on humanity, on our history, and our collective memory, where as now they are more interior reflections on emotional states, love, loss, pain, growth.
Explain your concept of collective memory.
I guess it would mean our memory of the elements that are universal to the human experience – love, non-love, loneliness, war, faith, lack of faith, birth, death. These are all human experiences that we all deal with. And I think we could benefit to think more about a sort of collective history. Too often we separate and divide ourselves with our individual histories, people become very interested more in their own ethnic or religious histories. They allow their histories to inform who they are, and cloud their judgements, to dictate who they love and hate. But we have a shared human history. We are all victims in it and we are all responsible for it. Even if we are on different sides of issues through history, there are some themes that are consistent throughout most histories. I believe that images can cross cultures and borders more efficiently then language and perhaps better convey some of these similar themes, emotions, and stories that would be part of our collective memory.
We also love the idea of “modern cave drawings.” And your work feels like that – primitive in this refined way.
Yes, cave drawings have always fascinated me. I love the notion of art as language and of using visual imagery to communicate. Too me, that is a strength that visual art can have. There is something very primal in those drawings, they explain something, and tell stories even with limited means and tools.
What do you think the internet has done for creativity and/or communication?
The Internet is the biggest change in the sharing and spreading of ideas, so thus also visual ideas and visual art. So for that it’s great. I often see more interesting art online then I do in galleries. There are no borders, and ideas can travel faster than before. Art can be part of someone’s everyday life in ways it couldn’t before. And as an artist I don’t have to wait a year for a painting to be put in an exhibition. In that way it’s great. It has helped me and pushed me more, and it’s helped having an audience to get immediate feedback from and a community of great artists to inspire me. I think on a negative side, the Internet is creating kind of an ephemeral culture with the abundance of other visual stimulus and distractions. A week can feel like such a long time, and things are easily forgotten. Hopefully some good art can stay afloat in the sea of content. Hopefully some images can be worth dwelling upon and thinking about more then whatever the next Internet meme might be…I worry about all the ideas and art that gets forgotten and lost in the sea of shit.
You live in Montreal currently, is that where you’re from? I’ve heard great things, what, do you love most about it?
I grew up in rural Manitoba, in a small village, but I’ve lived in Montreal now for 14 years. I’ve found it to be great city to live in and to create in. Montreal is very unique; there are many different types of people here – many freaks and oddities live here, so you can pretty much be who you want to be without much judgment from anyone. But to fully appreciate the city one needs to learn and try to speak some French, because it’s really the language of the city. That is the main difference from the rest of North America.
What’s your perfect day look like?
I like waking up and getting into art right away. Sip coffee and start painting — that’s my ideal morning. Then maybe I’d head out to take photos, or draw in a cafe for an hour or two. I also enjoy visiting old bookstores, and occasionally abandoned buildings. Then ideally staying up late into the night painting.
What people or ideas have most influenced your creative process?
Earlier on it was really the big painters. Picasso and Goya are probably the two painters I’ve thought about the most. Again it tends to be the artists who deal with deep and universal subjects. Literature and films that have influenced my creative process as well.
Name one artist or musician IPMM readers should google immediately.
I’ve been listening to the album Tremors by Sohn lately. It’s worth checking out.
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