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Bev Pike: Grottesque: Spectacles of Miniature & Gigantic

July 18, 2024 - March 2, 2025

Third Floor

Bev Pike percolates her monumental paintings with smaller works by several women artists. These comparative miniatures bracket her works to recreate the theatricality of four hundred year-old underground shell-encrusted grottos in England.

The real fake caves exist at a suitable distance from great Palladian houses, just far enough for fashionable guests (with their poets and painters) to wander into the semi-darkness seeking a little thrill of wonder.

There, theatrical walls have wild symbolic imagery and ancient geometric designs.

Here, unexpected enormousness beside smaller brilliance simulates experiences of transcendence within those ancient grottos.

We draw up close while feeling compelled to move about the gallery. Focusing on detail encourages the mind to wander and the body to relax. We wait, we analyse, we perceive anew. We embody awe.

Thus, every square inch of any grotto, including this metaphorical one, tells a story and encourages visitors to do the same.

Curated by Bev Pike.

Image Credit: Bev Pike. CHANTING GROTTO, Mystical evacuees congregate under auspicious crystalline ceilings to join in harmonious polyphony, 2023, gold gouache on paper, 2.4 m x 5.5 m. Image courtesy of the artist.

About Bev Pike

Bev Pike is a Winnipeg artist known for gigantic immersive paintings of architectural utopias. She bases her current series on eccentric three hundred year-old subterranean grottos in England.

These grottos provide ornate places of contemplation within pastoral landscapes. Interiors are encrusted with sea shells, semi-precious gemstone chunks, small quartz shingles – all within intricate and mystical designs.

Pike’s fascination includes other underground refuges, like bomb shelters and romanticized hideaways like Anchorite cells. She is interested in spaces that transcend above-ground catastrophes.

To that end, Pike is creating paintings that lead from one to the next within a grotto labyrinth. Her web of caves contains such amenities as stables, dance hall, lakeside tearoom, spa, séance parlours, a secret rendezvous spot and a greenhouse.

In all her work, Pike makes allusion to eccentric architecture of the past and its embodied experience in the present while imagining antidotes to an apocalyptic future.

Pike shows her work in major public art galleries across Canada, most recently at the Dunlop Art Gallery (Regina), Museum London (London), and St. Mary’s University Art Gallery (Halifax). In addition, she is the recipient of many major grants from the Canada Council, Manitoba Arts Council and Winnipeg Arts Council.

Pike also creates humorous, provocative and feminist Agony Aunt columns in artist books that are in international special collections such as the Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Modern, University of Bristol and others in England, Canada, Iceland and the USA.  She has been a guest speaker from coast to coast and in England.

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