Visual Arts Review | Thru Aug. 18 James Casebere, speaking in a lecture recently at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, inadvertently summed up the gist of his work. “Certain images,” he said, “are embedded in our visual unconscious library.” Artists, in particular, draw upon these in a manner that calls us to draw forth from our own collection of images. ‘Yellow Hallway #1’ by James Casebere Casebere, who draws upon external influences such as film, television, architecture, sculpture, computer animation and painting — as well as other artists — mingles these with a playful and yet sanguine aesthetic approach that results in the creation of contemplative, unpeopled images of architectural landscapes: exterior and interior ones. Literally, these are created spaces that trick the eye … sort of. Clicking through several carousels of slides, Casebere shared his earlier constructions of ghostly buildings that don’t quite look real and yet they are real enough to be haunting. Casebere continues this approach of creating scenes in miniature that he then photographs — and the resulting photograph becomes the art, a process that can take several weeks. Casebere’s exhibition, Picture Show, which opened last weekend in the IMA’s contemporary gallery, features the artist’s more recent imagery that is indeed profoundly real — and thus a philosophical departure from his earlier work, or perhaps it’s simply further along a continuum. His goal, he says, is “to create a cinematic moment.” Those moving pictures that draw us in most profoundly are those that are real enough to give us permission to suspend our imaginations and yet we are aware that these are contrived visual displays. In this case, we would be unsure. Based in New York City, Casebere, whose work has been exhibited in numerous museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, uniquely recreates rooms that speak to the tension between an artist’s being in the world and the solitary work of creating. The artist, ultimately, is synthesizing what he or she sees and pulling it through a unique vision, drawing in, perhaps, some universal philosophies. Casebere’s talent is in both his skill and his directness in carrying his ideas into new territories. The exhibition includes 14 large-format photographs of Casebere’s contrived architecture, which is based on real spaces, such as a college hallway or Jefferson’s Monticello. He also recreates a sewage system, a flooded hallway, a prison — all devoid of life and remarkably empty. “I was making these images from a sense of deprivation and pumping them up with a bit of color,” he remarks, referring to the photorealism that is now prevalent in his work. Viewing Casebere’s work in the context of his own artistic trajectory reveals the essence of what it means to be a career artist: The artist’s work and voice really do progress, and something of worth is being communicated along the way. Our job is to pay attention. Picture Show: James Casebere was organized by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, N.C. The exhibit is on view at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, 4000 Michigan Road, through Aug. 18. Admission to the exhibition is free. For information and hours, visit ima-art.org or call 920-2660.

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