Over the past fifteen years, David Spriggs has developed a signature style of layering images on transparencies, creating hybrid spaces that bend the traditional constructs of painting and sculpture. This method involves airbrushing two-dimensional images onto multiple sheets of transparent film, which are then hung together in horizontal cuts to form a three dimensional object. Four of these distinct works are currently on display at Neubacher Shor as part of The Nature of Power, a solo show of Spriggs work that spans nearly a decade of the artist’s production.
“Retinal II” is the most recent work on display in the exhibition. Aspects of vision and their relation to power are highly important in Spriggs transparency works. Despite the fragmentary nature of the medium, the work manages to convey a sense of depth and the impression of physical presence despite lacking a real physicality.
“Ideologies” reveals a similar, if not cosmic, sense of volume. The spectral forms appear as a frozen moment in time and space. Elements of the Italian Futurists and Cubism are undoubtedly present here and elsewhere in the exhibit. Concepts of speed and movement (Futurism) and the hybridity of a space that breaks the laws of what restricts a two and three-dimensional form (Cubism) are particularly present.
The crown jewel of the show, however, and the work that provides a perfect summation of Spriggs explored themes and influences is “The Paradox of Power“. This monumental work, measuring eight feet high and ten feet wide has the presence of a standalone exhibition, as it did when it was originally exhibited as part of Spriggs graduate thesis at Art Mur in 2007. Here, the cloud-like bull shares a connection with the Futurist ideal of simultaneous multiple representation from a variety of angles. Traditionally a symbol of power and virility, here the bull has not only been fragmented but flipped upside down and rendered immobile. Additionally, it has been separated in half by opposing binary colours of red and blue – furthering the paradox of power.
David Spriggs, ” The Paradox of Power”, installation, 2007, Red and blue acrylic on layered transparent film sheets, display case, springs, lighting, 04 x 124 x 36 inches. From left to right: side view, front view, side view. Photo: Mitch Billinkoff
The Nature of Power offers an insightful view into the past decade of David Spriggs artistic production during which he has explored themes of power, energy and optics. “The Paradox of Power“, the centerpiece of the show, is worth making the trip on its own. The work is both ambitious in its technique and scale and can only be truly appreciated in person. Though the exhibition doesn’t contain any new works from the artist, if you haven’t seen these works up close before I highly recommend paying a visit to Neubacher Shor Contemporary.
*Exhibition Information: February 6 – March 7, 2015, Neubacher Shor Contemporary, 5 Brock Avenue, Toronto. Gallery hours: Wed – Sat 12 – 5 p.m.