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David Eckard: The Object as Diary

by Lois Allan

Installation view of “Tournament (lumens),” 2003, with (left) Spoke and (right) Throne.

Just before leaving his studio in Portland, Oregon, for a four-month residency in France at the Pont Aven School of Art last year, David Eckard worked feverishly to finish the sculptures—or “objects,” as he calls them—for his fall exhibition at the Manuel Izquierdo Gallery at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. He also readied a video piece for a group show to open at the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Reinberger Galleries and began a project for the PNCA exchange show going to A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the fall of 2006. Although he produces performance and video works, as well as densely worked, biomorphic graphite and charcoal drawings, constructed sculptures were his first and remain his most substantial work.

“Heroes and Apparitions,” Eckard’s enigmatic and compelling show at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, demonstrated his mastery of layered, psychologically evocative art. The centerpiece, a naturally toned canvas spread in a circle, occupied a large section of the gallery floor. Metal rods protruding from below raised portions of the canvas to create an undulating appearance. A tall cone of the same material stood near one edge. Spent Dervish (coffee in the Wesley Room) simulated the garment worn by whirling dervishes, while making trenchant reference to ritualistic religious activities that send people into paroxysms of ecstatic expression, from whirling to speaking in tongues and snake handling. Its size and placement also signaled the installation’s theme: ecstasy, not only spiritual, but also emotional and sexual.

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