Oct 04 — Oct 08, 2017
Featuring work by: James Castle
Born profoundly deaf and believed never to have learned how to read, write, or sign, James Castle (1899–1977) spent his life making drawings, books, and constructions on his parents' Idaho farm. Initially, Castle was known for his landscapes and interiors that demonstrate a profound sense of place and rural life, drawn primarily in soot mixed with the artist’s saliva on found paper. But Castle was also an artist of his time who found inspiration in a wide range of images and ideas sourced from popular culture, ranging from cartoons, printed advertisements, and the detritus of consumption, including drawings on and about packaging materials. Interwoven throughout his work are idiosyncratic figures, depictions of totem-like objects, and pictographs that suggest language, but are ultimately ineffable.
Fleisher/Ollman’s Frieze Spotlight 2017 presentation will showcase the range of Castle’s practice, not limited to landscape drawings. We will include colorful drawings that resonate strongly with 1960s Pop—drawings made with colors reclaimed from crepe tissue, construction, and other pigment-rich papers soaked in water. Castle’s handmade books and pictograph drawings show the artist’s engagement with language and narrative structure. Finally, Fleisher/Ollman will present Castle’s paper constructions which depict rural life (farm animals), the quotidian (folded clothing, doors, walls) and the strange (blocky, oddly featureless human figures attired in carefully creased and string-bundled paper outfits). The presentation supports our framing of James Castle as an engaged vernacular modernist rather than an isolated, self-taught artist.