Angelbert Metoyer, ASK drawings and paintings

October 3rd – 25th, 2008

curated by Hikari Yokoyama

opening: October 3rd, 6:00 – 9:00

Internationally recognized for his palimpsest style, throughout his career Angelbert Metoyer has employed an esoteric system of symbols and icons to bemuse viewers and present himself as a shamanistic seer. Lately, he has gone deeper into abstraction, aligning his work with contemporary science’s ultimate abstractions: quantum mechanics and field theory.

Such a move, from myth to theory, does not deny the intuitions of the former, but rather refines them. Mystical holism becomes quantum entanglement. Taken by the idea that an object is what it is only insofar as it interacts with everything else, Metoyer thinks of his own imagination relating things nonlocally to many others. InEnd of All Race, a delicately drawn man in profile has ochre skin and wiry hair on his aging chest. The folds of his ear seem to have something alive and fierce within. His eye is the center of an apparent flower, which is actually the geometric effect of seven intersecting circles, two of which are annotated, “Don’t Kill” and “I am looking.” In New Body, an angelic/pupa-like form with the large head of an unhappy man detaches from a smallish body in office attire. Writings create an aura around the figure, and a crown with the markings “* # X” floats above his head.  As with most sacral depictions, in these we are shown how things are thought, not seen.

Metoyer was born 7/7/77 in New Orleans with a sixth finger on one hand (hexadactyly) and a veil-like membrane over his face, which his community took as a portent of great powers of touch and sight. Embracing the idea, Metoyer has practiced “automatic” writing on his canvases and seeks channel cosmic code.  Descended from a plantation-owning Creole family, as a child, he began creating his own mixed visual language, compiling hundreds of books with animal drawings, rhythmic color patterns, symbol systems from various cultures and disciplines, and, above all, references to the supernatural. The visual Creole that emerged in those early years continues to define his style, but his themes have matured. Now he grounds the spiritual, embeds mind in body and world, making rich soil for his imagination. Metoyer’s mediums include oil, ink, gold dust, red clay, indigo dye, tar, diamond dust, coal, and even dirty motor oil. Like an alchemist, he attempts to read what he sees as signs in the material world. To him, motor oil signifies eons-old plankton and ferns. Its iridescence represents the primordial sun’s stored energy.  Coal formed under pressure suggests a future diamond.  Using these unusual mediums, he hopes to evoke their associations, but they also simply provide the flattest darks, bluest night skies, earthiest reds, and most delicate shimmering lights.

Dactyl offers this work as an example of a hybrid of conservative and experimental art. Metoyer is an accomplished draftsman; his lines are delicate but confident. His works almost always include under- and over-laid visual planes of floating symbols, familiar symbols that have come to affect the body as if they were physically sensed objects, an important part of the complex visual experience of homo symbolicus.Signification enables the absent object to have an effect nonlocally, and this is the extent to which art is magic and Metoyer a true conjurer.

–Victoria N. Alexander, Ph.D.

Metoyer’s work is collected throughout the world, notably in the ACE and Mott collections and has shown in Atlanta, GA; NY, NY; Houston, TX; Marfa, TX; US Department of State in Vienna, Austria (2007); National Museum of Peru in Qatar, Peru (2007); Shanghai Art Museum (2006); Beijing, China (2006), curated by Christian Wu; Cuba Biennial, Havana (2003), a group show, the Bacardi Museum in Santiago, Cuba; and Art-Co in Leipzig, Germany (2002).