Popular culture is awash in blood, thanks to a string of vampires on film and TV (True Blood, Twilight, Let the Right One In), and so is Rymer Gallery, thanks to the paintings of Jordan Eagles. His slick, bright pieces feature shades of red, from a thin brownish color through true reds into near-black. No stage effects here: This is the real stuff—blood from a slaughterhouse used as a pigment sandwiched in layers of resin to form images.
Eagles employs blood in a way that shocks a little but has a natural affinity with the work of several artists also on display at Rymer who use organic and physiological source material. All of them put their material through transformations that emphasize the artifice of art. The companion pieces include Catherine Forster's installation of greenery twice-photographed, Amy Hamblin's wire sculptures tracing out anatomical forms, and Jeff Hand's body images crafted from faux fur.
Paintings in blood can't help but draw attention to themselves, starting with basic sensations—what does blood look like when you use it as a medium, what kinds of color and light effects occur? Eagles starts these paintings with a sheet of plexiglass—in some cases clear, in some cases white. He then applies alternating layers of blood and resin. Abstract shapes take form, often simple and dramatic, like "Phase 5-6," in which two large spheres face each other like photographs of cells under the microscope or two suns coming together. In others, the layers have more depth and seem more sculptural than photographic. "UR26" embeds a circular sunburst in a dark background, with little tongues flickering into the internal space of the piece and casting shadows onto the wall behind.
Eagles experiments with his material to find the range of colors he can get by methods such as aging the blood or mixing it with other materials. He has started mixing in crushed copper, which can produce a metallic sheen like "UR17," another fireburst-type image with a combination of metallic and bloody red in the central element.
Using clear resin, Eagles' paintings have a slick artificial surface that contrasts with the organic qualities of the blood. The resin also makes the paintings safe—when you hear about paintings with blood, the initial reaction may be that it will be gross, or even a biohazard. The resin encases the blood and puts it at a safe remove.
If red is Eagles' color, green and yellow belong to Catherine Forster's "They Call Me Theirs." She has taken over one small room at Rymer, painted it green and lined it with metal panels printed with photos that started as video images of vegetation and foliage. Forster took those pictures and applied thick trails and smears of green and yellow paint on them, and then took photos of those results. At first glance the paint looks like organic growth, and it comes across more distinctly than the underlying photos, which are second-generation images and therefore much grainier. The paint seems more alive than the gauzy vegetation underneath. Forster decomposes organic forms, combines them with artificial material (paint), and then by photographing creates an equivalency. Forster has performed a sort of recombinant DNA between these elements, and with the metal panels where they end up.
The artist as scientist appears again in the work of Amy Hamblin, who has made wire replicas of organs, internal body systems and cellular structures. The delicate filigree forms, sometimes with a translucent colored coating, are traces of these forms, their ghosts. Artists like Hamblin expand our understanding of the natural world by giving us new ways to see the structures that make up the biological world. Through these forms you can imagine a delicacy and an energy produced by tensile structures buried inside us.
Hamblin's delicate sculptures share space with some of Jeff Hand's faux-fur "paintings." Hand, a former Nashvillian, is represented here by works with a medical theme—one of his nurse portraits, a bunch of pillows in the form of oversized prescription pills, and cross-sections of human and animal anatomy, like illustrations from biology class. The cross-section of a skull also brings to mind diagrams from phrenology, the 19th century pseudo-science that claimed to discern human character from the topology of the head. It's a fine metaphor for artistic practice—the artist as crackpot scientist, concocting experiments with biological materials and forms, inquiring into aspects of phenomena that no one knew needed explanation. With Eagles, artistic practice gets literally close to lab work. Forster's multi-stage transformative process has analogies to chemical processes or alchemy, and Hand and Hamblin work in the territory past the boundaries of medical illustration.
Thank you for the write up. We greatly appreciate it! Hope we raise the funds…
Looks like he was a great Artist.......who left his Legacy behind for others to follow.....
Indianapolis (CA-35), not Indiana.
There were plenty of jumps and screams at the severed-head reveal at the Sunday night…
I just...this recap...why did I not know these were here until now?! 4 times on…