Santa Barbara-based artist Eric Beltz’ Elementary Forces is a collection of hypnotically detailed graphite drawings on Bristol that illustrate Beltzs decade-long work inspired by his in-depth research of history, religion and symbolism.
Eric Beltz Elementary Forces
Elementary Forces 1, 2010 Graphite on Bristol, 13″ x 13″:
A series of black and white pattern-based drawings meticulously constructed of tonal grids reference Colonial American cross-stitch samplers and quilting. Under close observation, the black and white drawings vibrate and create phantom colors that play with optical perception.
Elementary Forces 2, 2010 Graphite on Bristol, 10″ x 10″:
I have not used color in my work for 10 years but have stumbled across a method to make my grayscale palette bleed chromatic hallucinations, says Beltz.
Pillars of the Sky, 2012, Graphite on Bristol, 23″ x 18″:
detail from above piece:
A review of his work in Art In America Magazine describes it as “focused largely on our nations foundational myths and its flawed founding fathers” and that his Elementary Forces continues to engage with and undermine Americana, especially the four drawings based on needlework samplers. The article goes on to say that Beltzs adaptations (made by meticulously shading small gridded squares) demonstrate his handwork skills, much as colonial samplers showed off the talents of the girls and women who made them, but Beltz tweaks both form and content. Applying his technique to a low-tech craft yields a marvelous kind of analog pixelation, an Op-art buzz that nods simultaneously to its manual source and to its digital counterpart. While channeling the past, he ironically declaims the merits of historical amnesia, as conveyed by the truism pseudo-stitched on Elementary Forces 4: Happy is that people who have no history.
Elementary Forces 4, 2011 Graphite on Bristol 14″x 16″:
Beltz received his MFA from UC Santa Barbara where he currently teaches drawing in the Department of Art. His work has been featured in Art in America, Juxtapoz, Flaunt Magazine, and others. His work has been shown in galleries and museums across the United States and is held in the permanent collections of the Nerman Museum (KS), the Progressive Collection (OH), and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (CA). Eric Beltz is the current Artist in Residence at the Art Design & Architecture Museum at the University of Santa Barbara.