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James Castle: "an absence of there"    Jul 12 - Aug 26, 2012


Location: 62 South Glenwood, Jackson, WY 83001

Opening Reception: Thursday, July 12, 5 to 8pm

Tayloe Piggott Gallery is pleased to present tandem solo shows featuring the works of James Castle and Susan York. The exhibitions will be on view from July 12 through August 26, 2012 and open with a reception from 5 to 8pm on Thursday, July 12 at Tayloe Piggott Gallery. As curator of “an absence of there,” Tayloe Piggott considered the depth of James Castle’s skill as a draftsman and artist, and thus chose drawings and constructions that resonate as personal and pure, without excess or artifice. The brooding poetry of James Castle’s constructions and drawings contrasts with the subtle tension of Susan York’s graphite sculptures and drawings. Having reached harmony through labor, both artists mesmerize with their mastery of material and form.

Despite his absolute detachment from spoken language (he was born deaf and never learned to read or write), James Castle knew how to take apart the cacophony of life and piece it back together into profound communications. He spent his time dissecting the structures that surrounded him: architectural, commercial, rural. By his genius, printed words become forms to disassemble and reassemble, and his visual world is translated into repetitive form and structure.

Rooted on his family’s farm in Garden Valley, Idaho, Castle had little connection to contemporary currents was except for detritus he salvaged from his family’s general store and post office. His materials were the ephemera of everyday life – cartons, boxes, envelopes – which he drew upon using his signature medium: woodstove soot mixed with spit. Although he had scant access to the art world – historians do know he poured over a Picasso book – there are astonishing parallels between Castle’s art and mainstream movements. The fact that his paper works recall European collages from the early 20th century, or that his use of commercial brands echoes Pop Art, or that his atmospheric landscapes verge on Color Field paintings, makes Castle a modern master and a national treasure.

His totem-like drawings and constructions, a focus of the exhibition, speak to his fascination with dismantling the world and reconfiguring it through only its essential elements. Each piece channels his innate understanding of architecture and the relationship of shapes and humans within space. Surrounded by rural scenes, the vertical compositions resonate as inanimate or animate landmarks: silos, trees, lone figures even. They converse, and together, speak to Castle’s quest to isolate underlying forms, proportions and tensions. Frank Del Deo, author of the accompanying catalogue’s exhibition essay, “Natural Order,” writes, “Castle continually reminds us that the world each of us inhabits is multilayered and dualistic – impenetrable, yet also composed from fundamentally simple, integrated parts.”

With age, Castle enjoyed a modicum of acclaim from a small group of art connoisseurs, and he lived to see his first solo exhibition in his state capital of Boise in 1963. However it took more than two decades after his death for the first retrospective of his work to appear at the Philadelphia Museum of Art – a momentous exhibition that established his name, on a national scale. Last year, the Museum Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain presented the first European retrospective of Castle, catapulting his work internationally. Tayloe Piggott Gallery has represented James Castle since 2006 and has released a catalogue to accompany this exhibition; in cooperation with James Castle Collection and Archive LP.

For further information regarding the exhibitions and Tayloe Piggott Gallery, please visit us online at www.tayloepiggottgallery.com or contact us at 307.733.0555 or art@tayloepiggottgallery.com.

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