Eric Helvie’s paintings, on view in his exhibition NOOL at Massey Lyuben Gallery, seem to have a lot going on. Against primarily abstract and monochromatic backgrounds, Helvie integrates a variety of visual cues – some of which like the pipe, used in not one but two pieces, allowing for immediate art historical associations to Magritte and others, alongside more subtle nods to history like the Cubist allusions inherent to the figurative distortion encountered throughout the exhibition. These images are, to varying extents and varying effect, layered beneath paint and fragments of fleece, creating a mythology entirely of the artist’s imagination.
The exhibition’s title is seemingly an abbreviation of “not cool,” and Helvie’s intent to express a sort of disillusionment and even distress is communicated fairly well through his amalgams of representative imagery and abstract fields. The fragmentation bordering on unease inherent to these paintings, owing in part to the inclusion of familiar imagery without much else in terms of narrative to grasp onto within the works, results in a resonance to the world outside the gallery walls while simultaneously allowing for an appreciation of Helvie’s technique and influences.
Eric Helvie: NOOL at Massey Lyuben Gallery
October 27 – December 3, 2016