Paul Elter

The Teacher Instructs Her Students
10″x8.5″; collage; 2006

Paul Elter
Chelsea, Quebec, Canada


Consumer Theatre

Starting in the mid-nineties with my fascination for the human figure, I began to search for ways of stripping the figure of recognizable features; these forms would be without facial expression or signifiers such as clothing that could define social status, or anything recognizably human.  It was an experiment, research perhaps, into how one might create forms that could still convey human emotions and perform or interact to suggest human narratives without these clues.

This idea has evolved through several bodies of work to culminate in the series “Consumer Theatre”–in this instance expressed by characters built directly from urban consumer society, exploring the narrative potential in contemporary allegories. The torn and cut textures from glossy magazines become shapes representing The Princess, The Politician, The Scientist, The Idol, all caught in the act—conversing, scolding, interpretations perhaps, of how others might see us.

These paintings, combining abstraction and representation, are based upon the collage “maquettes” constructed from the detritus of a shopping culture–reassembled into new, distinct forms that function as actors on a stage. These forms are in performance, acting out our daily routine, the goods and objects we purchase and consume, all interacting in a way that is almost…human. The stage on which they perform made of assemblages–dystopian landscapes built of textures and colours from media and advertising, which becomes the backdrop, the stage, in this consumer theatre.


Paul Elter is a painter, sculptor, recovering animator, and irreverent photographer. His artistic practice covers 25+ years and includes exhibitions throughout Canada and Austria. He also worked as an art educator for ten years in the Yukon Territory.  A decade living in the Canadian North (Whitehorse, Yukon) imprinted him firmly and deeply with the big landscape, impacting how he portrays society and its relationships—the how, why, and what we relate to, as creatures of this enormous place.  Ardent advocate of all things brush applied, cut and torn, of ink and paper, single lens, of the under and overexposed, the hand-wrought or cardboard crafted. Committed to creating work that is raw, hand-built, and analog in design and construction.  Born in Kitchener, Ontario to European parents, his life as a first-generation Canadian has influenced and ultimately reflected back into the work he creates. The results are expressive, disjointed, raw and questioning.  He now resides in Chelsea, Quebec.


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The First Date
10″x8.5″; collage; 2006

The First Date
30″x24″; oil paint on plywood; 2006

Posers & Wannabes
36″x48″; oil paint on plywood; 2006

The Dirty & The Clean
36″x48″; oil paint on plywood; 2010