Saturday, February 6, 2010

Weekend rambles: outsider art, sky photos and video whimsy

James Castle (1900 – 1977) devoted his quiet life to making small art objects, drawings and books painted, drawn and constructed from used materials found in his rural homestead near Boise, Idaho. Born deaf, Castle never learned signing or lip reading and instead taught himself a rigorous personal creative language using discarded milk cartons, matchboxes, chimney soot, his own saliva and colors squeezed from wet tissue paper. In an hermetic environment with limited communication with relatives who cared for him, Castle constructed arresting images and objects based on his observed surroundings: interiors, people, animals, and farm landscape. Some works are composed from words and images seen in print, which carried a special fascination for the artist.

It's interesting that the show of this "outsider" artist coincides with the Outsider Art Fair in New York. Like most outsider art, his is hard to describe. It makes me realize how much we depend on categorizing art in order to understand it. His deafness and isolation combined with an unsuspected (for the time) intelligence and creativity led him to view his surroundings with an astute understanding and a sophistication which is shocking for someone who we would consider marginalized.

Despite the barrenness of Castle’s surroundings and the solitary quality of his life, his works lack any sense of loneliness, pain, or worry. On the contrary, “making art for Castle,” says BAM/PFA Chief Curator Lucinda Barnes, “was clearly an act of confident pleasure and curiosity, an act in which he immersed his full awareness.”

Organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the show is on view at the BAM ( Berkeley Art Museum) from February 3, 2010 through April 25, 2010.
Also at Gallery Paule Anglim:

Robert Hartman at Triangle - His sky photos of California combine photography with painterly ambiance.

Katya Bonnenfant at Haines. Normally I'm not that fond of video/installation/conceptual pieces but this one captured my attention.

This is the French graphic/web designer;'s first exhibition at Haines Gallery. The "Hortensia Suitcase Delux,” includes “Motif Fleuri” a projected image of a small creature climbing its way across the flowers and plants of botanical wallpaper installed on the gallery walls and designed by the artist. Bulges grow on him, he blows on them and they transform into seeds that fly to fertilize other corners of the wallpaper. The corollas hide all kinds of strange lovers. Also on view is “Vintage Packaging for Animation,” a series of small animations enclosed in vintage calculators and clocks. The artist works with these recycled machines to give them a whimsical ‘second life’.
It's both charming and bizarre.

1 comment:

bluemonk said...

Hey Nancy, thanks for the shout-out on BAAQ, and these do look like fascinating finds!