The 100 #60 – Graham Gillmore

Psych Study. Mixed Media on ledger paper.
Psych Study. Mixed Media on ledger paper.

The above mixed media work by Graham Gillmore is his play on a transcript of a psychological evaluation of Gillmore himself, assessing his suitability to be a fit parent to take custody of his son.

Graham Gillmore is a Canadian painter, born 1963 in West Vancouver. In 1981, Gillmore enrolled in the Emily Carr College of Art and Design and pursued a formal art education. Despite this he considers himself to be largely self-taught, but with profound influences from his art school friends: Douglas Coupland, Angela Grossmann, Derek Root and Atilla Richard Lukacs.

Misguided by Invoices
Misguided by Invoices

Gillmore is known for his large canvasses containing “text messages” embedded in layers of design. The viewer is challenged to decipher meanings in the dense ironic wordplay. “Misguided by Invoices” (above) is a mischievous play on “Guided by Voices”  The words and phrases in this and other works are taken from lyrics, everyday phrases and the radio, and are often very personal in nature.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Gillmore’s work is that most of his pieces use vintage ledger paper as the canvas, something which started in his childhood when his accountant father gave him scrap ledger paper to draw upon. Today he tracks down his ledger paper in flea markets, or people are kind enough to send him some.

Pencil me in...Mixed Media on ledger paper. 21" x 23"
Pencil me in…Mixed Media on ledger paper. 21″ x 23″

Following graduation from art school in 1985, Gillmore and his art school colleagues founded the artistic group “Futura Bold”. Within a year, they were included in the “Young Romantics” exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the careers of five of Canada’s most outstanding young artists were launched. Riding on the success of this initial exhibition, Gillmore moved to New York City  and over the next 18 years, built a highly successful career there. Graham Gillmore exhibits with the Monte Clark Gallery in Vancouver/Toronto and currently lives and works in Winlaw, BC.

This is me - Thank you. 2008.
This is me – Thank you. 2008.

This is Me takes words from an evangelical sermon and transforms them into stuttering text, overlapping lines and broken rhythms. Gillmore’s text is caustic, ironic, edgy and often controversial. The cutting voice of his work attracts an audience delighted by his irreverence and able to connect with his observations. In his  Artist statement  Gilmore says: I play the role of scavenger when it comes to the texts I use. I think of these selected fragments as a kind of linguistic ‘road kill’ – skeletons on which to hang the material of the painting.

Rejection Letter

Gillmore’s large scale, Rejection Letter (above) riffs on a bureaucratically worded refusal of his art  while the more minimalist Unexamined Life...(below) turns an acerbic spotlight on society’s addiction to cable television.


Graham Gillmore’s playful investigations of hope and doubt, of promise and failure, are alive in his stated intent to “infuse within the darker side of the human experience humour and sarcasm in order to deflate and then balance out our unrealistic expectations, hopes and dreams.”

Credits – with thanks to:  Wikipedia / Google Images /

‘The 100′ series was initiated by my 100th Post in April 2012. As text and images are the essence of my blog I will post 100 pieces of textual art from historical and contemporary artists and from my own hand. To view the series to date click on ‘The 100’ in my Category Menu.

18 thoughts on “The 100 #60 – Graham Gillmore

  1. THis is great – I think it’s one of my favorites in this series. Thanks for exposing me to a new text based artist. Very cool indeed.


  2. I would imagine it would be hard to finish one of these because what seemed fine today might to be good tomorrow, depending on my moods…very note resting work.


  3. This was definitely new for me – not just interesting and fun but also educational! Very…strong way of expressing himself through words and also colours at the same time. Reminded me a bit of those good, old telegrams when one could be…read in quite a few ways.


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