For his first West Coast solo exhibit, artist Blake Armstrong debuted “Morpheus,” a collection that delves into a dark, ethereal world that exists beyond consciousness. It’s only fitting that the opening reception coincided with the rise of the full moon on January 10th—a peak time to manifest dreams into waking reality. The series, which is named after the Greek god of sleep, invites onlookers to experience otherworldly visions and confront beings hidden in the deepest parts of our psyches.
The exhibit consists of dozens of pieces that took Armstrong nearly a year to complete. Prior to this, he held an art show at The Black Veil Studio in Salem, Massachusetts, in early 2019. Not only have musicians featured his work on album covers, but as a makeup artist, he’s painted the faces of models with looks that range from glamour to gory.
“Morpheus” welcomes us into the artist’s mindscape and imagination where swirls of watercolor transform into creatures and chimeras only encountered during our deepest slumbers. The narrative is divided into three parts: Dreams, Nightmares and Hell.
The first set presents paintings done in brighter shades depicting fantastical figures such as “The Archangel” and “The Ballerina” that possess celestial qualities. Moving onward, we enter the second phase where we meet “Subterranean Brutality” and “Erosion.” Here, there is a shift from the divine to the more grotesque.
Finally, we plummet into hell where “The Goliath” and, naturally, “The Devil” reside. In a social media post, Armstrong comments that this third part is “the fall from consciousness, the sweat and tears from waking up and being in a place you can’t escape from. The sins that we as humans commit every day, brought into a low light of torment and guilt.”
I was in awe examining the pieces. The manner in which Blake organized the set read like a macabre fairy tale dropping you from the heights of heaven into the bowels of the underworld. But, no matter how sinister the drawings became, beauty was sustained throughout. “The Woman Who Rides the Dragon” and “The Left Hand of the Devil” were especially beguiling.
The exhibition will be on display until early February and admission is free. Also on sale are t-shirts exclusive to the gallery bearing the artist’s piece “Morpheus.”
You can keep up with Blake Armstrong by following him on Instagram @blkarmstron.
Visit Lethal Amounts for more information on the current exhibit as well as on upcoming events.