Canadian artist, Dallas Seitz, might be said to be something of a real cowboy, having grown up on a ranch in rural Canada. His practice as an artist, though largely conceptual, often makes direct or oblique references to the environment in which he lived and in which his family still lives.
Working in media ranging from drawing and video to glass and installations of found materials and objects, his work frequently deals with a hidden brutal layer of experience nestling beside the comfortable, the domestic and familiar. Collections and collecting behaviour often form a key part of his practice in which he acquires, makes or arranges the objects that come to stand for someone of something, a practice that naturally segues into his additional work as a curator. Whether it is the secret drug dependencies of affluent teenagers sublimated into beautiful glass ornaments or the genuinely disturbing facets of his grandmother’s doll collection, he constructs discourses in which the evident and the obvious often give way to the disturbing and the brutal.
Perhaps one of his best-known works – for fairly self-evident reasons - gives a prime example of the kinds of discourses he constructs about the environment from which he sprung. In a video work showing his father killing a coyote, Seitz’s dispassionate view of a fairly familiar and everyday experience on a working ranch only heightens the sense of horror and queasiness as the animal’s life is ended by a mechanical action. There is the same sense of grizzly reality underlying his carving in caribou horn of a coyote’s head; death of one form or another is subsumed into a folkloric decorative tradition.
By contrast, other works such as ink drawings or installations of found materials speak of a kind of empathy for the lonely outpost desire to find or make the beautiful and decorative in a world of tough, isolated survival. His intricate, partly abstracted drawings or installations of kitschy objects referencing western popular decorative forms certainly draw attention to the disparity between the tough image of the rancher and the flowery nature of local decorative traditions. But, perhaps they also speak something of an explanation; the need to find the pretty in a terrain where one’s hands might often be covered in blood.
Dallas Seitz has shown in a range of international venues including West Germany, Berlin; Cell Project Space, London; Gazonrouge, Athens; Temporary Contemporary, London and The Banff Centre, Alberta.
(extract from press release for exhibition ‘Yee Haw’ at Vegas gallery, London)