Mapping Back

Mixed Messages by Peter Dykhuis
48″x84″; encaustic on collaged messages/notes on 28 panels; 2006. Photo by Steve Farmer


Peter Dykhuis Reboots Encaustic with Collage

Encaustic’s characteristic semi-transparency may be ideal for use in collage, as it allows underlying layers of paper to remain visible while permitting the medium its own signifying potential,” writes Jane Affleck in Kolaj #26. “Halifax, Nova-Scotia-based artist, curator and gallery director Peter Dykhuis has been in on this secret for years.”

This article was featured in Kolaj #26. To see the entire issue, SUBSCRIBE to Kolaj Magazine or Get a Copy of the Issue.

Pressure Today (detail) by Peter Dykhuis
variable dimensions; Sharpie on 1173 used business envelopes, each 4.25″x9.5″; 2004-2008

Dykhuis’s more recent work comprises encaustic collage paintings, in which the personal is juxtaposed with the political—quite literally. About 15 years ago, he began using paper-based ephemera that serve as a kind of self-portrait or documentation of his own life: phone messages, cancelled stamps and envelopes (and occasionally, the contents of the envelopes), notes from family members, to-do lists. Over this, Dykhuis applies rich, colourful layers of encaustic paint that hint at and often outright replicate such things as patterns from radar and satellite imagery; topographical and municipal land-use maps; reticles; and technologies of nationhood and war (fighter jets, as one example).

The resulting works can unsettle viewers, as the private, quotidian details of the artist’s life become eerie alongside references to mapping and surveillance. In observing these details, viewers are of course implicated in surveilling, while recognizing that they too are surveilled by the technological powers that be, tracked and made “targets”— even if just via their use of social media by corporations hungry to make another dollar through streamlined advertising.

This article was featured in Kolaj #26. To see the entire issue, SUBSCRIBE to Kolaj Magazine or Get a Copy of the Issue.

State Dinner by Peter Dykhuis 
114″x173″ installed; watercolour on 95 Royal Chinet paper plates; 2005
Installation view, Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Photo by Steve Farmer

Peter Dykhuis holds a BFA from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His work has been exhibited extensively in artist-run centres and public galleries across Canada and in group shows across the U.S. His work was also shown in Japan at the Embassy of Canada; in Austria, at the Cartography and Art-Art and Cartography conference in Vienna; and in Australia at the Sydney College of Arts. As an art critic, Dykhuis has published reviews in ARTSatlantic, C Magazine, Parachute, Canadian Art, Art Papers and Border Crossings. Since 2007, Dykhuis has been the Director and Curator of Dalhousie Art Gallery at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He lives and works in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Learn more about the artist at