Rally and Retreat, opening at LMNL Gallery on March 4th, combines the wheatpasted installations that Joe Boruchow has become known for on the streets of Philadelphia with two new evolutions in his studio practice: metal cutouts and short films, both of which stem from his trademark paper cutouts and black and white posters.
Rally and Retreat is a polarizing body of work: Hard cut metal and fragile works on paper, temporary installations and works meant to last for centuries, static illustrations and short films, Republicans and Democrats, realism and cubism… Boruchow’s work captures this contentious moment as the country is divided by political party and then divided once more even within parties.
Since 2003 Joe Boruchow’s installations, made from delicate black paper cutouts, have been decorating the streets of Philadelphia. Using architectural spaces to frame and add context to his work, the 40-year-old artist continues to combine concept and design in his unique craft.
Rally and Retreat opens at LMNL Gallery on March 4th, First Friday, from 6-9pm. At the opening, there will be t-shirts for sale, free posters, and beer provided by Sterling Pig Brewery. The exhibition will remain on view through March 31st by appointment.
My black and white cutouts are an evolution from when I used stencils to make posters for my band, The Nite Lights. About twelve years ago, as my technique improved, the stencils became too fragile to work with. I started to simply photocopy black paper cutouts and found that I was able to get much more coverage pasting and stapling these around town than I had with the stencils, all the while, retaining a fine art object.
My process varies with each paper cutout, but there are some things that remain consistent. From thumbnail sketches I develop more detailed studies that I then redraw on black paper paying special attention to the limits of the medium. In a paper cutout, all the black must connect (this makes things like belly buttons challenging). Then I excise all the white space with an Xacto blade, paint out the remaining pencil marks, and scan the cutout. From this, the image is scaled up for my large-scale installations and murals.
The longer I have been doing commissioned and uncommissioned public art the more I try to find architectural spaces to frame and add context to my work, ultimately, integrating it into the environment. In a gallery, however, one can see the original cutouts from which the larger installations are made. Their intricacy and smaller scale often surprise people, giving them a new perspective on the public / private aspects of my work and emphasizing the blend of craft and concept that I attempt to achieve.
- Joe Boruchow