GARDENS OF RADIANCE
Exhibition: April 30 - June 4, 2022
Reception: Saturday, April 30, 2 - 4 PM
Koplin Del Rio Gallery is pleased to announce “Gardens of Radiance” by Santa Barbara based artist Eric Beltz. A presentation of works from his “Hypnobotany” series, and extension of the “Garden of Radiance” series, this marks the artist's fourth solo exhibition at Koplin Del Rio. Viewing these series in combination, “Gardens of Radiance” offers the viewer an opportunity to engage both earth and sky, plant and landscape, moon and clouds, near and far in alternating order. Tiny drawings of vast space contrast against life size drawings of common roadside weeds. Both present gateways into other realms of consciousness, deeper layers of understanding of the inner self, but they also present a window into the common, everyday experience of looking at the world around us and hopefully noticing something new.
Meant to evoke the sensation that when we look into nature, there is something that looks back at us as well, the “Hypnobotany” drawings conjure a sense of the uncanny. That we are acknowledged by nature is also conjured by the silver shellac ink on the black museum board. The ink is specular and reflective, changing based on proximity to the drawings and how light reflects from our bodies into the drawing. The black paper is light absorbing and vanishes into ambiguous depth. Each plant was drawn from life in the habitat in which they grow - urban waste spaces. Their surroundings by nature are patterned, dense fields that require disentanglement to become legible, it is only by recognizing the individual species that the journey towards further meaning starts. Within the neglected spaces of our urban environments, growing around human intervention and disturbance, many of these plants, some at turns medicinal or poisonous in nature, find opportunity to thrive.
While “Hypnobotany” asks us to look closely and untangle, in contrast, the graphite drawings on Bristol in “Garden of Radiance” are an exploration of the tension between looking away from while also trying to reconnect with the Earth. The phrase ‘Garden of’ in the series name is meant to form a connection to the Garden of Eden but, the phrase incomplete, this reference is never fully consummated. Looking at each drawing, there is ambiguity of where this radiant garden is located. Is it in the fragments of triangles, squares, hexagons, and other irregular geometric shapes that radiate lights and darks from the sky? Or are we standing in the garden looking up? What do we see when we look away?
In the artist's keen eye and tightly focused pencil, Beltz further builds upon his obsession with the cycle of the moon as it waxes and wanes across the ever-changing sky. Exploration of cosmic weightlessness, mind-bending reflections, and patterns are a way to conjure up the magnetic forces between planets, moons, and stars. Beltz’s pattern-based work, is embedded with knowledge and symbolism referencing Colonial American cross-stitch samples and quilting from which seek to re-invigorate domestic decoration with spiritual import. Under close observation, the black and white pixelated drawings vibrate, and create phantom colors that play with optical perception.