Eric Beltz Melds Myth and Mysticism in Other-Worldly Graphite Drawings
Twenty years ago, Eric Beltz concocted the word “Dreveriem.” At the time, the term served as the overarching title of a series of poems about an otherworldly realm he’d created. (If you look closely, you see that Beltz has wedged the word “reverie” into the word “dream.”) In his new exhibition at Koplin Del Rio, which adopts the word as its title, the Santa Barbara-based artist continues his exploration into this mythical world.
Installation view of “Eric Beltz: DREVERIEM,” courtesy of Koplin Del Rio
Made up solely of graphite drawings, “DREVERIEM” is split into figurative works and abstract patterned pieces. The representational works depict scenes of fantasy—vultures, pelicans, hawks, and eagles swoop and soar around headless and skinless woodsmen. Beltz adds script from various texts and poems to the drawings, giving them a narrative feel while referencing mythology, religion, and history. The patterned works—which recall colonial craft—are almost psychedelic, employing Op Art techniques to give the drawings an electric, twitchy quality.
Koplin Del Rio mounts the exhibition in the midst of Beltz’s residency at the Art, Design, & Architecture (AD&A) Museum at his alma mater UC Santa Barbara. His work there is displayed (through this Friday) as an installation called “The Cave of Treasures,” which continues Beltz’s investigations into apocryphal texts and mythology, focusing on the Medusa, the swastika, and poison oak, and the revulsion surrounding these subjects.
The exhibition features a wall drawing of a tree containing stone faces and carnage created by the Medusa, and a platform adorned with patterns made from swastikas—a symbol that had many uses across various cultures before becoming appropriated by the Nazis, with which it is now most associated—upon which a live poison oak plant sits.
Beltz’s work in these two exhibitions brings the viewer into a forbidden world filled with mysticism, shamanism, and theology, offering a glimpse into the unknown.