Chthonos

Erik ReeL, #1976 Chthonos, acrylic on canvas, 105 x 55 inches, 2015, photo courtesy the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

Chthonos is the left hand half of a pair of paintings painted for the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara’s exhibition Out of the Great Wide Open in 2015.  Chthonos is related to a Jungian archetype complex having to do with the earth, groundedness and interiority.  The other half of the pair, titled PranaRama, was related to archetypes related to prana, breath, that is a complex having to do with air, expansiveness, exteriority.

Originally I was to have a single piece in the show on a sort of side wall.  When the museum realized it was part of a pair, they said, “Oh, we have to have the pair.”  With each visit to my studio before the show, the number of works they wanted to show increased and my space allocation expanded. They eventually gave me my own room, essentially amounting to a solo exhibition within the larger group show.  This suited my preference for putting together a coherent exhibition that makes a statement in itself, beyond any individual piece. It was a lot of fun, there were a lot of people at the opening, with Nathan Vonk writing a very positive review, the final paragraph of which I quote here with a link following:

“Perhaps the strongest showing of work in this exhibition comes from Erik ReeL. His flavor of abstract painting harks back to Paul Klee, Cy Twombly, and Mark Tobey; but his mark-making technique also brings to mind California’s post-surrealist Dynaton movement of the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. However, it is the surface of the six acrylic paintings on paper that demands attention. At first glance the paintings seem ultra-flat, as though produced by some sort of printed technique. However, upon extremely close inspection, innumerable layers become evident, where brushstrokes have produced microscopic valleys and canyons into which the powdery pigment bleeds from ReeL’s personal hieroglyphs. Step away from the piece, and a similarly profound macro level of depth becomes evident, as these marks float at various altitudes above a background that seems infinitely far away. These six pieces and the two large canvases that accompany them are reason enough to go to see what is in total an intriguing and thoroughly enjoyable exhibition.”

Nathan Vonk, Out of the Great Wide Open at MCASB, Santa Barbara Independent, 3 February 2015.

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