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Blood Replaces Paint at Lower East Side Gallery Show

By Serena Solomon | August 22, 2012 6:52am

LOWER EAST SIDE — Blood is beautiful.

That's the thinking of local artist Jordan Eagles, who will bring latest experiment with the substance to the Krause Gallery on Orchard Street for his upcoming exhibition, "Hemofields," on Sept 5.

"I think that it is a very potent material," said Eagles, a 35-year-old Lower East Side resident who has been using cow blood instead of paint for more than a decade. "It has without a doubt a certain intense energy to it.

"I don’t find it to be morbid," he added. "I find it to be actually uplifting and celebrating of life."

In "Hemofields," Eagles explores the dramatic colors and textures blood can create on canvas. The show begins in New York before heading to Chicago, Los Angeles and Detroit. 

"Blood has an interesting transparency,” said Eagles, comparing his current pieces to something like "a sleek stained-glass window." 

"It definitely is not paint. It doesn’t feel like paint, look like paint, behave like paint."

Eagles' latest show comes weeks after another neighborhood art space, Allegra LaViola Gallery, shocked art-lovers by serving up a feast of grilled rats for a performance-art piece.

The blood is carefully sandwiched and preserved between pieces of Plexiglas that is then sealed with resin. Other works mix blood-soaked gauze with a copper backing to create a luminous effect with rich colors and textures.

"It is permanently preserved. They will not change over time. There is no odor," said Eagles of his chosen medium. He explained that earlier when he painted with blood on canvas, the open air would eventually turn it from red to brown.

For his work, Eagles uses a studio in New Jersey, where he gets his blood shipped from a local slaughterhouse. He estimates about six gallons a month go into his art.

"The studio is between 92 to 101 degrees. It helps with the heating of the blood, the drying of it," said the artist, who works throughout the year — often just wearing shorts.

Eagles added that he never had a childhood fascination with blood and is not a fan of gory movies. Rather, the concept came out of a philosophical conversation with a friend about life and death while he studied at NYU's Galllatin School of Individual Studies.

From there he began visual experiments with blood as a way to explore the connection between body and soul.

"I never intended to be an artist," he said.

For Krause Gallery owner Benjamin Krause, who has hosted about five solo shows for the artist, Eagles' constant creations are remarkable. 

"He basically has two mediums — blood and copper — and he continues to reinvent himself," Krause said. "Perfectly crafted, gorgeous, fascinating. It is amazing work."

As for Eagles, he is continuing the discussion from his college days through a constant interaction with the life-giving substance.

"I love the fantasy of life after death, and I think there is something that happens," he said. "What it is, I don't know."