The Belkin Satellite is pleased to present Electric Ladyland, an exhibition of seventeen paintings by Vancouver-based artist Neil Wedman. Known primarily for his large-scale figurative paintings, Wedman has also made photographs, short films and Burlesck, a novel composed of drawings published by Arsenal Pulp Press. His works have been exhibited and collected internationally.
The exhibition brings together a new body of work conceived around the subject of Jimi Hendrix’s seminal 1968 double-album, Electric Ladyland. The cycle centres on Wedman’s large-scale (6 × 10 feet) rendition of the notorious nude cover photograph that appeared on the 1969 U.K. and European album release. In May 1999, Wedman recast the photograph’s original configuration of nineteen London Club girls with a group of eighteen, thirty to forty-five year old women assembled from Vancouver’s live music scene. Departing from the typical two to one ratio of a gatefold record jacket, the grand scale of Wedman’s Electric Ladyland invokes the original composition’s resemblance to nineteenth century academic paintings that picture similar arrangements of female nudes, for example Ingres’ The Turkish Bath (1862).
The cycle includes a new sequence of paintings that combine Wedman’s series of Chemistry Sets (1998-99) with the psychedelic poetry of the Hendrix song titles. The paintings depict complex assemblages of scientific laboratory glassware—bell jars, retorts, alembics, condensers, distillation flasks and other various unidentifiable vessels—in such a way that the translucent orbs and convolutions of tubing spell out the titles of each of the tracks on the Electric Ladyland album. While the use of pharmaceutical vials reflects traditional themes of the still life genre (those of conversion, transition, impermanence and possession), their lyrical distortion further evokes the psychedelic alphabets of the 1960s and the pop alchemy of the subject matter.
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