Some people come to Las Vegas and see glitz, glitter and a 24-hour party.
Artist Matthew Couper sees a bit of horror and reveals it in his show “Horror Vacui,” set to be on display at the Winchester Cultural Center, 3130 McLeod Drive.
The title of the show is taken from an art term that translates from Latin as “fear of empty space” and was initially used to describe the interior design aesthetic of the Victorian era.
“The title is sort of a pun relating to the vampiric nature of Las Vegas,” Couper said. “I’ve been working on this show in my head since my wife and I moved here in 2010. I started working on all the actual pieces about a year ago.”
The title also is descriptive of the individual works and the show. While some shows at the gallery have been minimalist explorations of the facility’s unusual space, Couper’s show is packed with art, which is full of detail. The work is reminiscent of art of late 15th-century artist Hieronymus Bosch, with odd little details that continue to reveal themselves the longer the work is studied.
The show is a series of paintings, sculptures and digital projections augmented by a performance at the opening reception, which was planned for May 30. In some cases, the paintings are mounted at an angle, allowing the viewer to observe the back of the canvas.
“He’s exploring the idea of the facade,” said Patrick Gaffey, cultural program supervisor for the Clark County Parks and Recreation Department. “Las Vegas is a place where a thin skin of artifice is often laid over very simple and functional structures. I think he’s seeing a deeper meaning in that concept.”
The images in the works include Las Vegas landmarks, important current and historical figures related to Las Vegas and assorted monsters, particularly vampires. A portrait of Vlad Tepes, the real-world inspiration for Dracula, is paired with a portrait of LeRoy Neiman, an artist known for his popular colorful paintings of sports. His work is often showed in galleries on the Strip.
“The show comments on what I see as the predatory nature of Las Vegas,” Couper said. “That’s where the vampires come in. They also tie together some of the formal elements of Las Vegas, like the destruction and rebirth of casinos. They don’t actually die, but they transform, becoming something different but very much the same.”
The show is set to be on display during regular business hours through July 18. For more information, visit clarkcountynv.gov or call 702-455-7340.
Contact East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at email@example.com or 702-380-4532.