In an age of appropriation, the question of legitimate art making (especially in the context of urban and street art) has never been more debated. Where does original end and borrowed begin? Has it ever been possible for an artist to cultivate an original thought? Isn’t every visual reference a reflection of the artist’s exposure to the outside world?
Rene Gagnon is a good person to consult on this subject. The seasoned street and graffiti artist will be showing at Black Book Gallery for the month of January. Heavily influenced by the graffiti and abstract expressionist movements of the late seventies and early eighties, Gagnon is an appropriator. However, what distinguishes him from other well-known appropriators is that Gagnon’s work is grounded in true technique. More focused on engaging in the physical act of creating over developing original content, Gagnon says at this stage in his career, he is working to blend urban and graffiti art with contemporary abstract expressionism.
For this show, called Urban Flowers, Gagnon will be revealing a new body of work. Urban Flowers is just that, a collection of mixed-media flower images that are done through an urban filter. Appropriating from nature, the flowers represent a simple, straight-forward symbol for Gagnon to showcase his personal artistic perspective. Gagnon says, “Urban Flowers is a double entendre. Urban Flowers represents a body of work that was inspired by the connection between bold, colorful graffiti mark making and the similar patterns and vivid colors found in flowers. Urban Flowers is also a statement about the rise in popularity of the urban art scene and how it has bloomed over the last ten years.”