Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta, 1998: 'Brion Gysin: I Am That I Am'
This show examined the output of Brion Gysin: painter, writer, sound poet, tape composer, lyricist and student of magic who became a cult icon not so much for the impact of his works as for the scope of his ideas.
"The exhibition traces Gysin's career over 50 years: his involvement in Surrealism in Paris in the 1930's, his painting in Tangier in the 1950's, his development of the 'cut-up process' with Burroughs at the 'Beat Hotel' in Paris, his calligraphic abstractions in the 1960's and later his photo and text collages, which he laid over grids created by a rubber roller. Nestled among the 200 works is a Dreamachine, a device that when viewed with the eyes closed is reputed to produce alpha waves that hit the optic nerve and induce visions. On the back wall of the main gallery hangs the show's undisputed centerpiece, 'Calligraffiti of Fire,' an enormous calligraphic painting in the style of a Japanese makemono, or folding book, which is read from right to left across 10 canvases. It was Gysin's last work; Burroughs wept at the sight of it."