Eric Metcalfe: Gargoyles and Improvisations
Opening Reception: September 19, 7–9 p.m.
Artist Talk: September 30 at 2 p.m.
Eric Metcalfe in an influential visual and performance artist who, in the late 1960s, adopted the persona of Dr. Brute in collaboration with his late wife, the artist Kate Craig, as Lady Brute.
Through the abundant application and collection of leopard spot patterns, the pair critically questioned traditional concepts of art and "good taste," creating the fictional world of Brutopia. Metcalfe says, "What we were doing was political–drawing attention to issues like developers razing swathes of the city for profit". The Leopard Reality project ended in 1974 and since that time Metcalfe has worked in a variety of media including performance, film, video, mural painting and light projection.
Metcalf's "projects are thematic with cultural references such as film noir, westerns, and classical subjects like Greek pottery and functional architectural details, and most of all jazz and improvised music that fuels inspiration".
Over the last decade, he has produced sequential series of 11" x 14" paintings on paper, each series comprising multiple works, exceeding 250 paintings in total, These gouache sketches that can be enlarged into murals or transposed into three-dimensional sculpture, with titles such as Trio, Furthermore and Winged Rhino correspond with his lifelong interest in jazz, popular art forms (including movies and comics) and art history.
Metcalfe's approach to serial work is defined by graphic narrative, film story boards, and sustained improvisational jazz rhythms. A sampling of these is found in the exhibition Gargoyles and Improvisations.
In addition to works from the Jazz series, the exhibition includes paintings, produced in 2010 that are derived from gargoyles found on European cathedrals. Each work depicts a pencil sketch of a figural gargoyle next a painted geometric composition based on the drawing. These works are a mash-up of ideas related to architecture, art history, symbolism, gothic horror and comic book illustration.
Resembling dazzle camouflage deployed on ships during the First World War, Metcalfe's use of pattern in his Jazz and Gargoyle series impart movement and animation to otherwise static forms. As Dr. Brute, Metcalfe linked his early practice to jazz by performing with solid wood leopard spotted saxophones on which he strapped a kazoo. Gargoyles and Improvisations draws reference to these early works as a locus for Metcalfe's idiosyncratic and self-reflexive new work.
Metcalfe was awarded the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts in 2006, he received the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2008 and an Honorary Doctorate from Emily Carr University of Art + Design in 2015.
His works have been exhibited and collected at numerous local, national and international institutions. He is co-founder of the artist-run centre, the Western Front.
Eric Metcalfe's presentation, Materials and Domesticity on Saturday, September 30 at 2 p.m. at the museum will provide context for his perceptive/intuitive art making practice.