Booklicious: From Boring to Breathtaking: The Book Carvings of Guy Laramee

January 10, 2012


I'm really glad I never had to share art class with Guy Laramee as a kid. He was probably one of those kids who whipped up a couple of casual caricatures of Charles Darwin and Edgar Allan Poe* in the 50-minute period, whereas I left class with more charcoal on my face than on the paper. I say this because Guy's current work is about five steps and two turns beyond cool and more in the realm of eye popping, jaw dropping, and "How???" producing. This guy is prodigiously talented. He takes the ultimate in mundane — out-of-date encyclopedias — and turns them into magnificent landscapes. Here's how he explains his work:

The erosion of cultures – and of “culture” as a whole - is the theme that runs through the last 25 years of my artistic practice. Cultures arise, become obsolete, and are replaced by new ones. With the vanishing of cultures, some people are displaced and destroyed. We are currently told that the paper book is bound to die. The library, as a place, is finished. One might say: so what? Do we really believe that “new technologies” will change anything concerning our existential dilemma, our human condition? And even if we could change the content of all the books on earth, would this change anything in relation to the domination of analytical knowledge over intuitive knowledge? What is it in ourselves that insists on grabbing, on casting the flow of experience into concepts?

My work, in 3D as well as in painting, originates from the very idea that ultimate knowledge could very well be an erosion instead of an accumulation. The title of one of my pieces is “ All Ideas Look Alike”. Contemporary art seems to have forgotten that there is an exterior to the intellect. I want to examine thinking, not only “What” we think, but “That” we think.

So I carve landscapes out of books and I paint Romantic landscapes. Mountains of disused knowledge return to what they really are: mountains. They erode a bit more and they become hills. Then they flatten and become fields where apparently nothing is happening. Piles of obsolete encyclopedias return to that which does not need to say anything, that which simply IS. Fogs and clouds erase everything we know, everything we think we are.

You can view more of Guy's incredible work here.

*I was trying to imagine an impressive subject and result that a kid could produce in class, and a quick Google search actually presented me with what I'd conjured up. Amazing. And disturbing.


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