Eric Metcalfe: Dr. Brute and Friends On View at the National Gallery of Canada
Ottawa, Canada - December 7, 1999
« Le Musée des beaux-arts du Canada présente l'exposition Eric Metcalfe. Dr Brute et Cie. »
The National Gallery is pleased to present Eric Metcalfe: Dr. Brute and Friends, now on view until 2 April 2000. This exhibition celebrates the life and times of the west coast artist Eric Metcalfe's persona Dr. Brute, featuring a selection of videotapes, art objects and ephemera drawn from the National Gallery of Canada's permanent collection and from the Art Metropole Collection. It includes Metcalfe's Brute Sax (a recent acquisition), musical performances by Dr. Brute and the Brute Saxes documented on video, and appearances by Dr. Brute (or his spirit) in various dramatic video roles.
Born in 1940 into a family with interests in the arts including dance, painting, and music, Eric Metcalfe studied art in Victoria, British Columbia in the 1960s. An adolescent interest in cartooning was the beginning of the creation of the character Dr. Brute. As he became involved in the correspondence art scene in Vancouver in the late 1960 – a scene in which people knew each other by pseudonym – Metcalfe adopted Dr. Brute as a persona. Vancouver was one of a number of centres in an international network of correspondence artists. The movement was based on an aesthetic of ephemerality, with artists adopting alter egos, forming fictional companies, or building archives of collected images. The exchange of material and ideas took place through the mails, a most ordinary medium that allowed the traffic of extraordinary material that took aim at anything sacred in contemporary aesthetics. The network artists occasionally gathered for such events as the Decca Dance in 1974, documented in the video Art's Stars in Hollywood: The Decca Dance 1974 by Ant Farm as well as in art magazines like FILE Megazine.
In this milieu, Dr. Brute grew and flourished, and the leopard saxophone, a wooden instrument painted with leopard camouflage and fitted with a kazoo, became his most famous attribute. Dr. Brute’s fictional world, Brutopia, included leopard-spot decoration used in every possible way. Metcalfe and his collaborator Kate Craig (alias Lady Brute) collected leopard material, and their mail art correspondents contributed found images of leopard-pattern usages. This collecting was aimed at discovering and revealing the ubiquitous nature
of this ordinary exotica, synonymous with pornography and kitsch as well as a certain expression of sexual power. As Dr. Brute, Metcalfe would wear the leopard motif, and his saxophone is painted with it. He decorated the facade of the Vancouver Art Gallery with it, and, civic-minded, proposed the leopard spot as an urban renewal project for the city. The saxophone, itself a brash, jazzy, sexy, and frankly phallic instrument wears its spots brazenly and goes forth into the world of art as a disruptive, seductive, celebratory presence.
Please note that this exhibition contains images that may be unsuitable for some viewers.
Director, Public Affairs
tel. (613) 990-5050
Karen Lisa Oxorn
tel. (613) 990-6835
fax (613) 990-9824
tel. (613) 990-3142
National Gallery of Canada
tel. (613) 990-1985
380 Sussex Drive