Anvil’s drummer put down his drum sticks a moment to deliver art exhibit
Robb Reiner is not only the drummer of the Canadian heavy metal band Anvil, but also a talented painter. His works, simple oil on canvas stills, are on display for the first time at the Silent Metal exhibit at the BBAM! Gallery.
Gallery owner Ralph Alfonso spearheaded the exhibit. Alfonso was the band’s publicist with Attic Records at the beginning of the metal phenomenon in the ‘80s when Anvil was enjoying moderate success. The band’s story is documented in the 2009 film, The Story of Anvil.
The film not only led to a second coming of Anvil, but the exposure of Reiner as a visual artist. There is a scene in the film where Reiner shows his studio. “Robb showed his paintings and I was flabbergasted. I worked with him and I had no idea he was a painter,” said Alfonso.
Reiner hasn’t displayed his art in other galleries because it’s not for sale. He believes that if he were to sell his work it then “becomes a job.” For Reiner, the art is therapeutic. He relaxes in his studio, listens to music and paints, producing maybe three works per year. Reiner has produced a total of 52 paintings. Another reason Reiner doesn’t sell his work is that he intends to leave them to his son one day, “when it’ll probably be worth way more than now,” Reiner joked.
Vibrant, smooth lines and rich colours portray different locations and still-life objects: the anvil drum kit, a set of twin beds, a diner. Oh, and two portraits of bowel movements. Somehow, even the toilet bowl paintings are touching. Reiner’s art feels like an old friend.
The inspiration behind Reiner’s paintings are photographs he takes while on tour with Anvil. Reiner removes not only people, but birds, lights and any other fringe details from the photos when he sketches then paints them. The simplicity of the paintings allows the humanity to speak for itself.
Besides, every painting actually has a living subject, and that is Reiner. “I’m in every painting, I’m the one who took the photo, so I’m in it,” Reiner said.
“If you’re familiar with the work of Edward Hopper it’s kind of like that except there’s no people,” said Alfonso. He is referring to the artist behind “Nighthawks,” the famous painting of a couple sitting at the bar of a diner that is universally recognizable. And indeed, Reiner’s work has a similar haunting loneliness.
The paintings reflect the dichotomy of Reiner’s character, said Alfonso. The music he creates is loud and intense, yet his painting are still. There is a comfortable calmness to all 12 of the paintings from the curated exhibit.
Silent Metal is running from Sept. 25 – Oct. 6 at the BBAM! Gallery, 3255 St-Jacques St.