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Nanaimo artist showcasing pandemic-inspired paintings at Gallery Merrick

Grant Leier presents paintings from ‘New Work Strange Times’ series
‘Covid Interior E’ is one of the paintings by Nanaimo artist Grant Leier on display at Gallery Merrick from Sept. 10 to 17. (Photo courtesy Joe Bembridge)

Nanaimo artist Grant Leier’s latest body of work was created during the COVID-19 pandemic and reflects the state of the world during that time.

From Sept. 10 to 17, Leier presents paintings from his New Work Strange Times series at Nanaimo’s Gallery Merrick. Leier started working on the series last winter and it features detailed still lifes with some “overtly COVID references.”

“I had done a series of interiors 20 years ago and I revisited it because of COVID,” he said. “It’s like an after-dinner party scene or an after-lunch scene. It’s empty restaurants, empty rooms where groups of people obviously were.”

In those deserted dining rooms the lights are still on and food and drink have been served, but the tables have been abandoned and left a surreal mess.

“The perspective is all wrong. The colours are all weird. The patterns are fabulous,” Leier said.

Gallery Merrick proprietor Joe Bembridge has been previewing the collection and said “everyone is always drawn to [Leier’s] work.”

“When I talk about his work I always say he’s not trying to make political statements or any sort of major impact on people with his art except for bringing happiness into their home, bringing beauty into their home, bringing colour into their home,” he said. “And this collection does that.”

The pandemic hasn’t been hindering Leier’s artistic practice. Although there haven’t been any in-person openings, he’s still been sending work to dealers in Alberta and B.C.

Leier said spending more time in his studio has allowed him to “galvanize myself creatively.”

“I was not at all impacted in a negative way with my work by COVID,” he said. “I work a lot in my studio. I put in a tremendous number of hours, which I love, and it just meant that I was even more focused because there wasn’t much that we could do.”

WHAT’S ON … Grant Leier exhibition at Gallery Merrick, 13B Commercial St., from Sept. 10 to 17. Opening reception takes place on the gallery’s Facebook and Instagram pages on Sept. 10 at 7 p.m.

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