Ever since he was introduced to the scene in these pages only a few short years ago, Brad Necyk has proven himself as a prolific visual artist. He has participated in more than 20 exhibits around this area and around the world too. What’s more, he works in a broad range of media: video, photographs, sound and installation pieces among them.
He’s also covered some difficult subjects.
When he first came to our attention in 2013, he was exploring the world of psychiatry starting from an autobiographical viewpoint. His own psychological struggles with mental illness and the corollary introspections that came with that led to him to open up his medicine cabinet – practically like opening up his own brain – to let viewers in to see photos of his personal demons lined up like pill bottles on a shelf.
Since then, he also participated in last year’s Alberta Biennial of Art where he took selfies of himself as reflected in grand distortion on various chrome bathroom fixtures.
Most recently, he was the first artist in residence with the Friends of the University of Alberta Hospital. He spent a year working on art projects surrounding Alberta Health’s organ transplant program.
Only a few short months after the final showing of Retreat, his exhibition from that experience, Necyk is back with what might best be described as a good overview of the last three years, including the fascinating new project that he’s involved in.
Pharmakon opens at the Art Gallery of St. Albert next week. It features a brief overview of his works and career from then to now, including his current explorations into art and medicine. After his residency, he has become involved with a team of researchers and artists examining people who are dealing with head and neck cancers.
“It’s really, really intense. We’re working with patients, listening to their stories, and really trying to figure out what’s important to them: living and surviving this horrific cancer,” he explained.
There’s a video that he has been producing out of this group. Because of how cancer can affect people’s faces and other systems that offer so much of our identities, Necyk employs his own spin to reflect that shift in the work.
It’s just something that he can’t shake, he added. It’s just what always crops up in his practice: finding the psychologies behind how people internalize their major medical events. It changes how a person exists, he said.
“The piece is a video of their faces completely dismantling. There’s a lot of disfiguration. It hits this really intimate place where you lose your face, your voice…” he trailed off, speculating about how the trauma can and does change people.
“For me, the exhibition is not quite a survey of my past four years but it really encapsulates everything that I’ve been working on around medicine. It starts off really personal with my story – it’s really autobiographical – then it moves into this more patient-centred or engaged work where I’m meeting with people and talking about disorders that I don’t have, and trying to learn from their experiences.”
Multimedia artworks by Brad Necyk
Opening reception Thursday, Aug. 4 from 6 to 9 p.m. in conjunction with August Art Walk
Artist will be in attendance
Show runs until Saturday, Aug. 27
Art Gallery of St. Albert
19 Perron St.
Call 780-460-4310 or visit www.artgalleryofstalbert.ca for more information.