Over the last decade Toronto-based artist Eric Glavin has made use of a wide range of media including video, performance, photography, sculpture and painting. The exhibition, Eric Glavin: Radiant City, features approximately 17 C-prints on plexiglas created over the last few years which depict modernist architectural spaces.
Glavin is particularly drawn to the architectural schemes of the mid-twentieth century, a period of great political, social and artistic activity. At the root of this period's aesthetic sensibilities lay utopian hopes whose vestiges, in the form of modernist abstraction, still permeate our visual field. Tracing the afterlife of these architectural hopes—in all their grids, glass and colour—Glavin's work draws us in to look closer at such images as social housing, schools, and high-rises; edifices which have helped shape the socio-economic infrastructure of most of our industrial cities. In doing so, he creates a language of iconic images derived from our contemporary urban experience.
He begins by photographing these types of buildings in the various cities he visits and then chooses selected imagery from his personal archive. Using graphic software, he subsequently creates computer-generated designs that are finally presented as C-prints on plexiglas. Through this process Glavin transforms the architectural references into a realm that is neither realistic documentation nor abstraction. Further, he blurs any distinction between painting, printmaking and photography. His compositions focus on the structure's reductive façade, flattening the edifice into pure surface as sign. In making use of new technologies, he eliminates his once painterly surface in favour of a hard-edged vibrancy, devoid of the human touch.
To look at these taut and syncopated spaces, and to retrace their patterns and grids, is an attempt to understand them. Glavin engages with the polemics of abstraction and the moment at which utopian ideals encounter the realities of urban sprawl. In a subtle manner, he is clearing a space for scrutiny and inquiry; ultimately offering a reflection on the trajectory of Modernism.