B.C. Epker graduated in 1996 from the AKI Academy of Fine Art in Enschede. His work combines fragments of widely differing types of images (historical engravings, pornography, advertising materials, postcards and even devotional prints), placing them in unexpected contexts and using them to forge new images. An idyllic landscape is often the background for the varied cast of characters he presents: armed civilians, comic strip figures, Greek gods, mythological figures, people in folk costume, etc. At first glance, the scenes appear recognisable and accessible. On further consideration, this proves not to be the case. Nothing in Epker’s pictures is unambiguous. Concepts like good and evil are drained of meaning; norms and values previously taken for granted are undermined.
Epker creates scenes of extraordinary eloquence. They are fragments of events frozen in time, in which the figures can come to life and explode into action at any moment. The 2005 woodcut (Not) in Paradise is a good example. In the background, Adam and Eve embrace. In the foreground, the serpent is wrapped around the tree and there is an armed man. He is about to take aim, but at whom? At Adam and Eve, to expel them from the Garden of Eden because they have eaten the apple? At the evil serpent? Or at us as innocent onlookers? Over the last few years, Epker has devoted ever-increasing attention to the setting, the landscape in which the figures operate. The obscene has also become an important factor. This point is illustrated by the intriguing engraving entitled Car Struck Girls, which appears to show a clichéd scene from an erotic film. The protagonists are a mini-skirted woman whose car has broken down and a uniformed man who is taking the situation in hand. Although Epker’s work is never explicit, it incites the viewer to imagine the sequel to the scene he depicts. We find ourselves automatically seeing in our mind’s eye what may happen next and this confronts us with ourselves, our expectations and the way we look at images.
The exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum will include both recent work and drawings and woodcuts from previous years. It will be accompanied by a bilingual book entitled B.C. Epker, Lucide Domeinen/Lucid Domains with a foreword by Wim van Krimpen, director of the Gemeentemuseum, and Saskia Bak, deputy director of the Fries Museum (€ 25). A signed limited edition accompanied by an original woodcut will also be available (€ 325). Both are available in the museum store.