Billy Mavreas - And Another Thing

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By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak June 2008.

Billy Mavreas's And Another Thing is the second instalment in the Helen Pitt Gallerys investigation into procedure, process, and the performative gesture. During their Workaday arts series, the gallery is interested in looking at not only art itself, but the way in which it is created. The Helen Pitt Gallery is a non-profit artist-run centre, and Mavreas will be in the gallery from May 27 until June 14 creating and constantly modifying his art. He will also be collaborating with visitors to the gallery to create collages, drawings, and random photocopies that he will incorporate into his 3D wall collage as it grows.


Mavreas is a cartoonist based out of Montreal who has been creating rock posters, comics, artist books, visual poetry, installation, mail art, and web art for almost 20 years. His artwork has been shown and published internationally. His creative inspiration comes from the fact that he likes to work with whatever materials are available and at hand. On his first day in the gallery, he found painters tape in the back room and made patterns of lines on the wall with it. He also made a star out of the info cards for his exhibit and pinned that to the wall too. There is a photocopier there in the gallery which Mavreas works with a great deal; he is also using sculptural elements, pencil drawings, and found objects, such as his collection of Montreal bus transfers, to create his collaged installation.

Beginning with a few bits of tape on the wall, moving to some drawings and a paper collage, the gallery will eventually turn into a 3D piece of artwork full of all sorts of media mixed together and made into one giant collage. While the art on the walls itself is what most of us would focus on, the gallery is also very interested in the process by which the art ends up there. When visiting this exhibition it is equally important to observe the art as it is being created. It is a sort of performance as the art evolves into its final state. Sometimes the process is just as beautiful as the result, and sometimes the result is not what you expected at all so you alter it, and it becomes something completely different and unexpectedly beautiful. Mavreas is used to these sorts of happy accidents and partly relies on them to create his art.

During his time at the gallery, Mavreas says he wants to create a radical expansion of ideas, an accumulation and sloughing off, a shared play and a solo manic exercise, a turn or phrase, a rant, a monologue, a listening, an encouragement, the texture of things noticed or felt, an array of tenses, dislodged temporal streams, layered noise, hidden information, buried text, lost meanings, worlds within worlds. He describes the gallery exhibition as his high art, while his cartoons are his low art. The only difference is that one is displayed in a gallery and meant to be serious while the other is sold in books or put onto a poster as a bit of fun.

The gallery is very close to Main and Hastings which is not always the nicest area to be, but it is worth the visit to see this constantly evolving collaborative collage. He recommends visiting more than once as the installation will be growing and evolving during his time in the gallery. Im sure the gallery will be a mass of collaged creativity once it is complete, but I doubt even Mavreas has any idea what his creation will look like when his stay there is done.

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