Nanaimo artist Grant Leier is presenting his new collection of large diptychs, called the Appropriation Series, at Gallery Merrick from June 7 to 14. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo artist presents pairs of paintings at his largest show ever

Grant Leier’s ‘Appropriation Series’ comes to Gallery Merrick from June 7 to 14

From June 7 to 14 the walls of Gallery Merrick with be entirely devoted to Grant Leier, as the Nanaimo artist displays his largest show ever.

Leier’s latest collection of work, called the Appropriation Series, features 160 images, divided to form 80 diptychs, or complementary pairs of paintings.

“That’s ridiculous. I’ve never in my entire career produced that many pieces,” Leier said.

“It was just a blast doing it,” he added. “And they’re really immediate, really fast to paint for the most part, and I just took as many liberties as I chose and created way more work than I needed.”

The works were created by searching for and ‘appropriating’ seemingly unrelated pairs of images from the internet. The pictures were then projected onto a canvas, where they were traced, cropped and painted. Gallery Merrick owner Joe Bembridge said it’s the biggest single artist show he’s presented.

“Joe’s being really kind about devoting the entire gallery to it partly because it’s such a massive show and it’s important for people to see a lot of the imagery together because each piece is distinctive,” Leier said.

Leier’s reference material is primarily composed of vintage advertising images, a design genre he’s been interested in since he was an illustration student at art school 40 years ago. He said because people are bombarded with those kinds of images, the works’ artistic value is taken for granted.

“A lot of the imagery that’s in the public, that we see, whether it’s a box of Tide or a Coca-Cola tin or anything like that, it’s so familiar and in a lot of cases it’s really beautiful because it’s created by the best agencies, by the best artists and it’s never treated like fine art, per se,” he said. “So it’s kind of neat also to elevate those images.”

Leier paired up his paintings with connections in mind, but said it’s up to viewers to come up with their own interpretations.

“I consciously chose images that I thought would create a story or make you try to make up a story about…” he said. “People tend to want it to make sense and that’s one of the reason I’ve used a lot of images that are so recognizable.”

WHAT’S ON … Appropriation Series opening reception at Gallery Merrick, 13B Commercial St., on Friday, June 7 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, June 8 at 1 p.m. Continues to June 14.

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