A note about the “shingle” / “laneway” paintings.
Certainly what I loved the most upon moving to Toronto to attend O.C.A. was that it was an older city (relative to the Ottawa suburb where I spent my high school years) with lots of old walls, businesses, railway tracks, and so on – this was the wonderful era before Toronto wanted to be “world-class” – let me tell you, there were a lot of older, rougher areas. I especially liked the laneways. You know - the back laneways where people erect their own home-made garages and park their cars. It’s like another world back there… lots of weathered surfaces, textures, old boards, graffiti, and some collapsing structures – lovely. Many of the surfaces in my work derived from walking through these laneways, looking, photographing. A lot of this would have been between Parkdale and High Park in the late eighties/early nineties. There were some particularly good laneways between Sorauren and Roncesvalles below Dundas St. West.
The only thing spoiling my enjoyment of these back lanes would be thinking I looked like a creep sauntering through these taking reference pictures with a camera!
This was an era of gentrification which I suppose is always ongoing in all major cities – I was able to pick up many art materials – apologies if I offended anyone by going into their rented dumpster - old doors especially but also windows, wood, sheet metal. The other thing I liked was walking old warehouse areas where those buildings existed. I also liked these neighborhoods at dusk; liked how light would come through old cracked, frosted glass windows, often the type with those wire reinforcements throughout the glass. This inspired a small series as well, and two of the large shingle paintings have lights behind glass. I liked and still like that time of day when the skyline still has some deep blue in it but lights are on – not quite night but not day either.
I had already been using encaustic a bit since the early eighties; having been aware of Jasper Johns’ work. One day it occurred to me to work with those wooden shims or shingles I had been seeing at various hardware stores… I literally “saw myself” painting shingles with encaustic, and so I began, often melting it off and repainting several times to create a weathered effect. I also thought – why not? What could me a more Canadian art material than wood shingles? I thought it was humorous. In combination with old doors, sheet metal and so on, this is how the large “laneway” paintings came to be. They are very specific to a certain time and place…
Marc Gagne, 2012
P.S. some photos from those days have been added to the site; Feb 2013.