Clouds of crimson billow across one wall as if from an open wound. A length of stained gauze decays seemingly before your eyes. Jagged streaks of rusty-red fluid erupt into the ether. No, these aren't scenes from the set of Hollywood's latest vampire franchise. It's the new solo show "Haemoscuro" by artist Jordan Eagles that opens Thursday -- a First Thursday -- at Mark Wolfe Contemporary Art. Eagles uses a most unusual material in his work: animal blood. Vegans and those who are weak of stomach take heed. Sourced from slaughterhouses, Eagles' blood is the real deal and is certainly unsettling.
But rather than merely attempting to gross you out, he experiments with the substance's aesthetic qualities, for example suspending it in resin or mixing it with copper. In his BARC series the fluid collects into shapes that resemble underground caverns, or perhaps the cavities of the human body, while the fabric he uses in his ROZE pieces simultaneously brings to mind the color-field paintings of Mark Rothko (if Rothko stained his canvases with blood) and the mummies of ancient Egypt.
The Egyptians of course believed the process of mummification prepared bodies for the hereafter, and Eagles' work similarly references issues of existence and mortality. As he allows blood to spill through Plexiglas and resin, taking the form of bolts of electricity or streams of lava, Eagles could be re-creating the Big Bang, the origin of the universe itself. The exhibit is in a centrally located gallery and a good starting point for the First Thursday art crawl.
The opening for "Haemoscuro" starts at 6 p.m. (the exhibition continues through May 25) at Mark Wolfe Contemporary Art, 1 Sutter (at Market), Suite 300, S.F. Admission is free.