First published: Fall 2019
Anne Marie Grgich's multi-layered collages and artists' books contain a delicate equilibrium
The art of Anne Marie Grgich feeds on, and grows strength from, accumulation. She piles image upon image. Sometimes words upon words. For the last couple of decades, collage has been the primary architecture of an Anne Grgich artwork. Back at the turn of the century, collaged elements often acted as a kind of base superstructure or foundation for her iconic painted figures. These images were sealed in complex layers of resin and paint that created enigmatic depths. Collage and painted lines and shapes existed in an easy inter-relationship from which visual meaning emerged.
Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, 2018–19, mixed media collage on canvas, 24 x 24 x 1.5 in. / 61 x 61 x 4 cm, photo: Steve Sonheim, 2019
During a visit to Sydney in 2009, the artist made two very large works that consisted almost entirely of collaged elements taken from posters and illustrated events guides. These works – which she may have considered not quite finished at the time – were in fact the basis of an emerging aesthetic in which collage, rather than painting, came to the fore and asserted itself as the primary expressive vehicle of much of her subsequent art.
Grgich was born in Los Angeles in 1961, but has become more or less a native of America’s Northwest Coast. She has never strayed for long from the Portland-Seattle axis that has produced a rich, fascinating and very particular vein of art, music, storytelling and cinema in the past half-century or so. She began to make art spontaneously at the age of 15, surreptitiously drawing on the pages of books taken from the family bookshelves. From the desecrated pages of those first forays into art making, she moved onto dissembling books in search of collage material and constructing books of her own. In one way or another, the book stands at the very epicentre of her artistic practice (an article about her books, by Rose Gonnella, was published in Raw Vision 22, 1998). Her unique artists’ books are ruggedly physical. Pages can be as thick as boards; in some cases, their literal depth is due to the process of layering one on top of another on a single sheet. As a result, the books often bulge and seem to be at the point of bursting their homemade binding. They are, at once, assertively present and fragile. Turning the pages of a book by Grgich is an intense experience. Image after image is revealed, accompanied by creaking, sticking and the object’s general resistance to being viewed.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #103.