"Casey Roberts: Natural Light"
450 Harrison Avenue
November 7 through 29
This November, Casey Roberts invites his audience to take
part in a plaintive conversation with the natural world. Pleading but never pedantic, he begs us to consider the damage we’ve inflicted on the environment. And taking Cues from prevailing political sentiment, he rinses his work with hope and nostalgia.
Roberts ponders weighty matters, but the pieces feel light, almost airy. That’s partly because of his unique medium, a photographic printing process from the 1800s known as cyanotype. The chemicals used in the process result
in cyan blue and alarmingly iridescent variations on that color. The singular palette is hardly restricting; it seems to free the artist to experiment with depth, cutouts and composition. Roberts washes his exposures with watery gouache and sprinkles them with small and vibrant painted creations. The result is delicate and tender, and Roberts carefully juxtaposes these impressions with somber themes.
Consider Roberts’ “Kill Kill Kill Kill 2.” A plume of smoke rising from a freshly cut tree shouts KILL, KILL. Blue, runny pines wilt in the background and navy moths appear over the
steaming stump. You can sense
Roberts’ affection for the natural
world in the majesty and humility
of the forest and the sadness he
conveys with each ring of the slain
tree trunk. Or take “Battle Stations,”
one of the show’s biggest and
starkest pieces. Here the tree is still
standing, but it’s been vandalized by
the initials of young lovers and serial
monogram inscribers. It’s as if human
beings are physically unable to resist
the temptation to leave an indelible