"Great Carpe Diem"
J.C. Heywood, "Great Carpe Diem," 2000, serigraph, 29.5" X 41". Photo: City of Burnaby Permanent Art Collection.
J.C. (CARL) HEYWOOD, A Life in Layers
Burnaby Art Gallery
Jan 22 to March 9, 2008
By Beverly Cramp
One of Canada’s pre-eminent printmakers, J.C. (Carl) Heywood will have his first major retrospective at Burnaby Art Gallery. Having spent more than 40 years executing his ideas through a variety of printmaking techniques, the exhibition called A Life in Layers will show his progression as an artist. “Evolution is a good word to describe this show, because it explains how he arrived at his unique style,” says curator Geraldine Davis. “The prints in the exhibition will illustrate the influence of Carl’s art history inspirations, his experience living in Paris where he was mentored by Stanley Hayter, and how his printmaking changed with the international exposure he’s had throughout his life. Carl is like a chameleon, an adventurer, the way he absorbs experience.”
After graduating from the Ontario College of Art in 1963, Heywood soon became dissatisfied with the art scenes in the small Ontario towns where he lived. In 1967 he found his way to Paris, where he worked at Surrealist painter and printmaker Hayter’s Atelier 17. The studio’s printmaking techniques influenced artists including Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and Max Ernst, as well as the developing styles of American artists Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko.
“Because of these influences, Carl’s style came from a whole range of historical references that blended with his visual sensibility,” Davis says. “But his work is not just historical. Carl finds ways to bring these influences to life, and even though these influences are modernist and recognizable, he re-invents them. Carl is extremely articulate and formal, which is not very common today.”
Davis talks about a screenprint called Little Schwitters Suite-Monumental, which Heywood made in 1999 (part of a series he called the UV Screenprints from 1996 to 2000): “Carl is updating the role of collage and assemblage, brought to prominence by Karl Schwitters and later taken up by cubists. But Carl uses his own ephem-era.” An image of a fish has been borrowed from earlier Heywood works, for example. Davis also refers to a work calledJapan Flowers with Water (part of a series called The Etchings from 1981to1991), which uses the common technique of cross-hatching in new ways.
Ultimately, the Heywood retrospective illustrates the artist’s unique way of working. “It’s his absolute love of detail and attention to tone and texture that is central to Carl’s art-making,” Davis says. “That and the fact he likes to display all the nuances of printmaking technology.”
Represented by: Paul Kuhn Gallery, Calgary; Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto; Jean-Claude Bergeron Gallery, Ottawa