Every artist has an inspiration, and for Curtis Gannon, it's comic books. But unlike many artists with their muses, Gannon doesn't fawn and fret over his brainchild; instead he takes a pair of scissors to it. "and everything in between," the latest exhibition of his work, will be on display at the Spacetaker ARC Gallery beginning Friday, January 13. The show is a collection of many new works by Gannon, some of which were essentially created for the space, featuring the deconstruction and then reconstruction of Gannon's preferred medium.
Gannon tells us that he has always loved comics, going back to when he was a child. He favors the early comics of the 1950s, and this is evident in his work. But having spent much of his artistic life creating paintings of comic books, he found that he still wasn't fully expressing his feelings on the medium. So he decided to cut them up.
The current exhibition finds framed works and installation pieces in which Gannon has sliced and diced his favorite comic book heroes and turned them on their heads. In some of the smaller pieces, he's woven the pages into an origami-like puzzle; where there was once a linear logic, we now find confusion. It is a fascinating approach to the art of the comic. The idea that this succession of colorful frames formerly told a narrative, but now has no context, is intriguing, to say the least.
In one of the larger pieces, Gannon has removed the main illustrations, leaving only a border to each cell. Borders are then piled upon each other lengthwise and vertically, creating a visually stimulating, giant, conglomeration of comic art. Yet the guts are missing. You can make out phrases and "Kablams!" and speech bubbles, but the dialogue is gone; faces and actions have been removed from the plot.
To create the grander-scaled pieces, Gannon says it takes him a few days of cutting and only a few hours to actually construct the work. "It takes me a long time to just think about how the pieces will fit together," he tells us. "It's always running through my head!"
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While the comics Gannon uses are real, he would never cut up a vintage Superman comic book for the sake of his art. "No, I use reprints of the actual comic books," he laughs (and we're relieved to hear).
About comic books' recent rise in popularity, especially superheroes and movies being made of them, Gannon is both pleased and not pleased. When comic book art had more of a cult following, Gannon felt part of an exclusive club. That said, the current fame of the comic has brought more attention to Gannon's work, and his medium into the world of the fine arts. Gannon's pieces are both thought-provoking and easy on the eyes.
Curtis Gannon's "and everything in between" runs Friday, January 13, through March 2, with an opening reception on January 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibition is on display at the Spacetaker ARC Gallery, 2101 Winter Street, B11. Gallery hours are by appointment.
For more information visit www.spacetaker.org