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Casey Bolding - On Stranger Planes

Words:

Edd Norval
June 21, 2019

Casey Bolding's art isn't comfortable anywhere. Or, rather, it's comfortable everywhere, but also vaguely anxious, no matter where it exists - canvas, wall, side of a van. Picking up on the 'humanoid yin yang' of our existence, the Denver born artist examines the human and the society from which they hail.

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America as we know it is the home of globalisation. When other countries experience the homogenising effects of change, the tidal wave of unstoppable difference, we interchange the words 'globalisation' with 'Americanisation'. This leaves America itself in a bit of a bind. How does it act as both the puzzle and the solution? What are the self-devouring effects of its global presence?


America's change is perhaps as accelerated as it is due in part to its role as a superpower, but also the resistance to change as led by those loyal to the idea of Old America. This doesn't hint at the nationalistic or racist connotations, but is a culture-heavy and folkloric place, where each road now paved on concrete was once dusty and lined with dreams. Bolding's surreal art straddles this line - trying to figure out where it comes from and where it's going.


The figures that wander through his landscapes are child-like, curious and trying to find some solid ground. The landscapes they wander through are a mixture of American flags, desert planes and virtual post-Internet spaces.

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Influenced by artists from graffiti, fine and outsider arts, Bolding wears them on his sleeve, proudly, not trying to make them coalesce as much as come together separately in a kind of patchwork dreamscape.


American mythology seems to permeate his works like a Mark Twain novel etched out in spraypaint. Familial scenes - a grieving mother, one he likens to his own, or a host of characters with their guns held aloft form a paradoxical focal point, giving his audience questions to ask of themselves and how we interact with and relate to the world we inhabit.


Undeniably surrealist, the paintings contain a sort of cut-out technique that uses pop culture icons and figures, recognisable faces that are included for exactly that reason. Bolding is clear that he wants them to be universal, to talk a language understood by all. Therein lies another paradox. They're globalised paintings that explore globalisation. They're asking us - can a riddle solve itself?

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Reiterating the symbolic nature of his work, Bolding is keen on utilising subliminal imagery, or subtle shapes and signs, to capture something primal in his audience. Some things that we relate to, we can't explain. His paintings are often such things. Out of the gallery and studio, whilst working in the street, Bolding's paintings appear even more out of context, using forms and techniques largely unseen in street art.


On his website, Bolding's works are described as taking 'on a high art facade, executed with low brow materials'. Another paradox. Another level of contradiction and depth.


Throughout all of his works, faces remain largely obscured, yet despite that, convey a deep and kinetic expression of pain; ecstasy; grief and torment. Sometimes all of these things indistinguishably at once. Bolding's paintings are always simply and clean in execution, but pack in many styles, genres and themes contributing to the underlining feeling that they're both art and puzzles to chew over - some of which seem to be about the individual, others the collective, but always the universal.

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