ERIC BELTZ, Chromatose, 2014, graphite on bristol, 11" x 9"
June 15 – July 20, 2014
CB1 Gallery presents Phantom Color, which brings together three artists, Eric Beltz, Brian Scott Campbell and Nathan Hayden, whose work indulges in a black and white palette and whose themes run from playful to macabre. Through various techniques, individual inventiveness, and a thorough commitment to grayscale, the seemingly restricted palette is shown to contain rich, unexpected, and optically dynamic possibilities. Whether it be for visual impact, a choice of drawing tools, or a conceptual choice each artist has considered color to not be a vital element in their work. This is not a matter of exclusion, of excluding color specifically or even eternally. For now, these artists are enjoying challenging the limits of what can be accomplished with white, gray, and black. Phantom Color opens on June 15, 2014 and will be on view through July 20s, with a reception for the artist on Sunday, June 15th, 5 - 7 p.m.
Not to leave out color entirely, the title of the show, Phantom Color, refers to a visual phenomena that occurs when the eye is limited to value contrast and denied actual color. Ghostly auras of pinks, blues, and yellows, can be experienced along high contrast edges. The eye itself lusts for color and can be made to bleed chromatic hallucinations.
Eric Beltz’s Elementary Forces drawings began as an extension of his American Visions series in which Colonial American history was merged with the lost cultural backdrop represented by potent roadside weeds. The idea of the visionary American was translated literally with the help of psychedelic plants. The Elementary Forces drawings, however, do not describe historical figures in altered states, they seek to create eye-popping experiences here and now. Based on an 1/8” hand-drawn grid like those used to layout cross-stitch patterns, Beltz’s drawings slip through domestic craft into psychedelia, sly puns, taboo design elements, Apocryphal references, and dark humor. The name Elementary Forces itself refers to both the basic principles of childhood learning as well as the fundamental, governing principles underlying nature.
Skewed still-lives, languorous figuration, and cartoons combine to a kaleidoscopic effect in Brian Scott Campbell’s graphite and ink drawings. His work is both exuberant and sober, filled with longing, uncertainty, humor, and pathos. Campbell reflects upon contemporary life through familiar imagery, Modern forms, and Classical iconography. Olympic athletes pose with dogs and female nudes recline or lick wristwatches within claustrophobic compositions. He interprets figuration as a series of abstract forms and portraiture as a mask. This collision of referents creates an electric moment where the anticipation of collapse coexists with a nervous excitement, the hypnotic conflict of depth and surface. These mercurial spaces feature blunt forms and absurd pairings in a fever dream of layers upon seemingly limitless layers.
Nathan Hayden’s elaborate ink drawings on paper and industrial felt are inspired by dance- induced visions. The idiosyncratic shapes and geometric patterns he derives from inner and outer landscapes bounce between abstraction and figurative representation. They contain narrative qualities as well as structural, system-based elements. The resulting compositions explore Hayden’s post-apocalyptic premonitions and invented mythologies. Points of reference include Navajo textiles, the Bayeux Tapestry, Modern abstraction, and comic illustration. For Phantom Color at CB1 Gallery, Hayden will install a monumental site-specific wall drawing. Hayden describes these installations as “gestures of infinity.” This refers directly to the optical blending of the black ink and stark white wall into a fuzzy gray as the pattern becomes progressively smaller. The smallest elements seeming ineffably so. This is also an ironic nod to the drawings’ temporary and performative nature.