Casey Weldon’s paintings shock, then tug on the heartstrings
Wed, Mar 20, 2013 (5:58 p.m.)
Consider my assertion, “Casey Weldon is a post-pop surrealist.” Here’s how it works: Casey Weldon = artist. Post = next stage. Pop surrealism = an art movement combining images of everyday consumer culture with dreamy, subconscious symbols. Put it all together in Weldon’s Lose+Find show at Trifecta Gallery and you’ve got a style that reaches beyond the weirdly familiar into a soulful future chockablock with bizarre creatures and figures.
Weldon’s “Chewie,” for example, isn’t simply a tight 14-by-14-inch portrait of a gray striped Tabby on a parquet floor. A double set of eyes and three-toed foot transform the kitty into a sci-fi feline powering up on an electric aqua and cinnamon-red launchpad. The flooring, toes and even the slightly vampiristic meowing mouth shift the image away from the realm of domestic comfort into some vivid otherworld—part Chewbacca, part Hello Kitty.
- LOSE+FIND: NEW WORKS BY CASEY WELDON
- Through March 29
- ; Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
- Trifecta Gallery, 107 E Charleston Blvd., 366-7001
It’s in the eyes where Weldon, a former Las Vegan, really does his stuff. Four-eyed Chewie targets the part of the brain where neural synapses devoted to identifying faces—a skill necessary for survival—suffer a jolt. That is a cat. Not. At first, it’s hard even to look into the cat’s hyper-realistic eyes, but once the shock wears off, amusement—at the kitty’s strange cuteness—takes over.
Weldon’s four-eyed cats—there are seven in the exhibit—grew from his portraits of women in cat masks. Portraiture—of pets, pies and people—is a Weldon fave and emerges naturally from his training in illustration. That he draws directly on the canvas, instead of tracing a projected image, lends an aura of intimacy to his work.
In the 36-by-24-inch “Homegoing,” the largest painting in the show, Weldon leads the viewer into a volcanic landscape where an attractive woman appears caught in the bewildering scenery of her own subconscious. She’s accompanied by a younger self in an outsized doll mask of her own face. The mask, like the eyes, is a classic symbol for the mysteries of the psyche, but the restricted palette and flattened planes belong to the comics.
In updating traditional surrealist imagery, Weldon pushes his subject matter into a futuristic arena that, ultimately, might not be so weird after all. Chewie could be a genetically engineered pet, the tripartite girl in “Homegoing” shorthand for a civilization that forces us to reassess what makes us human. Weldon’s work suggests that empathy for our uncanny world might be a viable response.