james castle at gwangju art biennale 2010
 
james castle at gwangju art biennale 2010
sep 14, 2010

james castle at gwangju art biennale 2010

untitled (l:blond girl, m: blond girl, r: gray figure) paper, graphites, string, color (unknown origin), ribbon, soot image © designboom

showing at this year’s gwangju art biennale is the work of james castle (1899-1977) who was born deaf and mute to a farming family in rural idaho. schooled for only five years, castle never learned to read or write, and communicated with his family through a kind of semi-private, rudimentary sign language. castle’s family was content to allow him to pursue his passion for making art, which he developed at a young age. having no access to traditional art making materials, castle began drawing on scraps of paper using a sharpened stick and ink made by mixing soot from the wood-bruning stove with water or spit. he used string to bind hand-made illustrated books and sew together rough figures of people and animals made from salvaged cardboard. as his work progressed, castle employed linear perspective to create countless drawings that incorporated aspects of his daily life. many of castle’s painstakingly rendered scenes contain strange figures–dubbed ‘friends’ by scholars of his work. in addition to his drawings, castle also made a large number of cardboard ‘friends’, which resemble dolls or even small idols. whether effigies of people he encountered or imaginary companions created to stave off the feelings of isolation, castle undoubtedly found comfort and companionship in these lovingly rendered figures and the world of images he created.

james castle at gwangju art biennale 2010 exhibition view image © designboom

james castle at gwangju art biennale 2010 l: untitled (tan dress) r: untitled (figure in tan coat)images © designboom

james castle at gwangju art biennale 2010 untitled (gray bird)image © designboom

james castle at gwangju art biennale 2010 exhibited display case image © designboom

james castle at gwangju art biennale 2010 l: untitled (crane) r: untitled (hat)images © designboom

james castle at gwangju art biennale 2010 l: untitled (girl in red coat) m:untitled (girl in pink dress) r: untitled (figure in blue coat)image © designboom

james castle at gwangju art biennale 2010 l: untitled (blue pitcher) r: untitled (figure in pink coat and girl in red coat)images © designboom

james castle at gwangju art biennale 2010 untitled (black bird)image © designboom

  • Very moving.

    Beth
  • Utterly charming and beautifully displayed.

    Leslie Wilson-Rutterford

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