James Gallagher takes a few meaningless scraps of paper and combines them in strong visual statements.
Such materials would be disastrous in less capable hands: blank pages from books and magazines in a dozen muted shades of tapioca. Random stains or wrinkles, and an occasional stray bit of text. Fragments of old photos clipped from anonymous publications. Yet, Gallagher glues them together in a way that creates powerful compositions:
He even manages to imbue these primitive materials with meaning, significance and mystery:
I collect my source materials from such places as recycled vintage books, sex manuals, clothing catalogs and anything else that can be folded into my world. With a combination of calculated moves, and unrehearsed accidents, my scraps find each other and solidify.... This spontaneous process often generates raw, emotional images that I feel excited and personally moved by. Ultimately I hope to capture something that feels natural (or unnatural) and then leave it up to the viewer to decide its significance.Gallagher never needs to fret about whether a brush is genuine Kolinsky sable, or whether Strathmore bristol board takes ink quite as well as it once did. The limitation of his materials rewards him with the gift of simplicity.
I recently complained about the plague of photoshop collages that have infested the field of illustration, but in my view Gallagher does collage right.