Eric Beltz. Courtesy of Morgan Lehman Gallery.
“Like illustrations for a cockeyed alternative history book, Beltz’s barefaced allegories are blithely presented with wicked humor and bitter political awareness of the dire state of today’s republic.” -Michael Duncan
Morgan Lehman is pleased to present “The Good Land”, a solo exhibition featuring new works by Eric Beltz. Beltz’s highly detailed graphite drawings address America’s colonial history and our lack of connection to nature. The work also attempts to instill a sense of hope and healing in scenes of despair and disillusionment. Beltz’s narratives are populated with figures of anonymous farmers and our founding fathers, and incorporate images of medicinal plants, native animals and texts from the Bible and the Egyptian and Tibetan books of the dead. Beltz seems to navigate a narrow path between respect for and criticism of the roots of the American past and our relationships with nature and the divine. The weight of the content in these works is refreshingly delivered with a sense of humor and honesty.
Beltz’s work not only presents a critique, but also offers a solution to the trauma that has been enacted in his works. Resilience and healing resonate in a self reflective atmosphere. For example, in the series “Back to Eden”, whose titles are taken from lists in Jethro Kloss’s 1939 book “Back To Eden”, Beltz depicts a headless victim who has collapsed into a mound of medicinal plants with text hovering around the pile. Beltz explains: “The phrases express spiritual optimism, vegetal regeneration, or a transcendent acceptance of death. The figure is the anonymous farmer found in various works. His interactions with nature are raw, primitive and direct. When he chops down a tree, a pharmacy springs up in its place.”
Beltz’s elaborately rendered drawings utilize the paper’s surface as ground to hold the lonesome figures and the landscape securely but without attachment. Recurring motifs such as skulls, eagles, snakes, chopped wood piles, and tattoo-like symbols surround the central figure(s). His works are contemplative and active gestures encouraging a rethinking of our values and resources in order to heal our current state.
Eric Beltz lives and works in Santa Barbara, CA. He received his BFA from California State University, and his MFA from University of California, Santa Barbara. His work has been exhibited at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX, Otis College of Arts and Design, Los Angeles, CA, Acuna-Hansen Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, and Alt.Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and can be found in corporate and private collections around the world.
Morgan Lehman is pleased to offer a catalog, with an essay by Michael Duncan, published in conjunction with this exhibition