The first comprehensive retrospective of James Castle’s work can be seen in Karsten Greve’s stunning galley space in the Marais district. Tucked in a corner of an historic building’s courtyard, the entry’s sleek glass door opens into an expansive naturally lit room where clusters of this mysterious artist’s drawings hang in understated white frames. Several pieces must be lifted off the hooks and inspected from both sides to fully appreciate how this artist covered found paper and portrayed the details of his seemingly simple surroundings.
At first glance these dark-toned small works appear naïf, but after understanding that James Castle was born deaf, never learned to read or write, and never interacted with a public beyond his own family and small town I began to pay more attention to the landscapes, intricate interiors, and repetitive patterns that he drew as his sole means of expression.
I can only imagine a century ago — his superiors wondering what to do with a boy who turned sticks into pencils and stove soot into ink. As his speech given peers moved beyond Idaho, James continued to busy himself by interpreting the vast fields outside and the shop filled shelves inside his humble home. This body of work preserved over his lifetime and now showcased 35 years after his death presents many new questions about the importance of perspective.
This exhibition is on view through March 17, 2012.
Karsten Greve is located at 5, rue Debelleyme, 75003 Paris. For more information, call +33 (0)1 42 77 1937 or visit Galerie Karsten Greve.
Susan Lyons is a Paris contributor to The Seen.