Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Walt Cassidy: Tracing the Contours of Private Experience
["The Realm of Chaos and Night" (2006)(from the series The Inferior Orbs), pigment print. "Through" (2010), ink on paper. "Attack on the Ascending" (2010), brass, wood, & fabric.]
With each piece of Walt Cassidy’s oeuvre charting private topographies of emotion, history, experience, and thought, his works—when seen in toto—capture a personal alphabet. A survey of Cassidy’s inner landscape, “The Protective Motif” is rendered in an intimate yet arcane visual language. Incorporating ink drawings, wall sculptures, and photographs, the work shown in “The Protective Motif”—up through May 9, 2010 at Invisible-Exports—testifies the turmoil and incendiary nature of private, affective experience. Furthermore, Cassidy’s work in this show—his very first solo exhibition—attempts to transform an inner chaos to a more palatable order.
Having previously exhibited at MASS MOCA, Paul Kasmin Gallery, and Deitch Projects, Cassidy’s works in “The Protective Motif” issue a narrative drawing upon his various chosen media—and incorporating gleanings from his industrial psychologist father. The brain’s fine workings—the very journey of energy and “information” through synapses to myriad destinations—come to the fore in his work. This show’s offerings trace contours of private experience, constructed on the basis of a therapeutic autobiographical agenda through the transformative ritual of re-experience. Cassidy’s constructions invoke—again and again—varied symbolisms of his “protective motifs.” These repeated ideas, patterns, images, and themes serve as the foundation upon which he extricates himself from personal experience.
In “The Inferior Orbs” (2006)—Cassidy’s introductory suite of photographs—the artist re-conceives John Milton’s map of the universe as a personal cosmography. Sketched by that 17th-Century English poet in Paradise Lost, Cassidy breathes visual life into lines of verse originally published in 1667. Cassidy’s photographic series of circles chart paths between heaven and hell and act as a template—formally and conceptually—for other works in “The Protective Motif.” “The shape of orbs that I use are rooted in alchemy," Cassidy told Interview Magazine in an explanation of his continual use of wheels and circular shapes. "And specifically Milton's construction of the cosmos in Paradise Lost [one finds] Lucifer is the rebel archetype in that story. I was thinking about that archetype and how the rebellious, dark, fallen outsider artist has overwhelmed art from the 1920s to the 1990s. I think we are past that state."
The artist’s most recent sculptural series is centered on “Nail Bomb” (2009), illustrating a field of fragments wired together in an ode to his personal emotional surrender and capturing momentous magnitude and velocity. One can discern this fluidity and motion in his work template, which—like a Nan Golden Cibachrome print—can be viewed as a disclosed private journal. Yet—as with Goldin—the depth and resonance of Cassidy’s works transcend any documentary aspects. Viewing the works in “The Protective Motif” is a meditative experience—on levels physical, psychological, spiritual, and cultural.
The Protective Motif
A Solo Exhibition by Walt Cassidy
Through May 9, 2010
14a Orchard Street, New York City 10002