A Sort of River of Passing Events
Kiah Celeste – Dominic Guarnaschelli – J. Cletus Wilcox
Thursdays & Fridays 12-4
and by appointment
“Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.”
Marcus Aurelius (121 – 180 CE)
We find ourselves quite vividly caught in the currents of history, further from shore than perhaps we’d realized. For some, it has always been thus; for others, privileges of various kinds kept a more comprehensive reality at bay. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, economic collapse, political hostilities, and the ongoing denial of black and brown citizens’ civil rights and basic humanity, so much is wrong in the world, our country, and very much in our own city. The work in this exhibition isn’t particularly related to these specific issues, but we acknowledge them because Quappi Projects was founded upon the idea of sharing art reflective of the zeitgeist, and to ignore any of this would be impossible. And yet, even amongst all of these difficulties and traumas – often because of them – the work of art and artists continues, as it always has.
A Sort of River of Passing Events features the work of three Louisville-area based artists: Brooklyn native Kiah Celeste, and Louisville natives Dominic Guarnaschelli and J. Cletus Wilcox. These artists’ disparate practices converge around ideas related to aesthetics, materiality, abstraction, process, and ambiguity of meaning.
Out of concerns about environmental sustainability, Celeste forages forgotten and remote locations in search of disused materials to compose her three-dimensional works. Gall Blass, Two Valentines, and Spring Themes, from her ongoing series I Find this Stable, explore the relationship and nature of mixed materials. Comprised of painterly and subtly beautiful discarded objects, each work is made stable through a balancing act, resulting in combinations that feel destined for each other and possess a palpable and poetic tension. From an older series of work, The Genital Nubs speaks of sexual fluidity, of sameness, otherness, and togetherness.
Like Celeste, Guarnaschelli repurposes images and materials while exploring the nature of objects and truth. His work is often concerned with natural history, religion, and education. Ethics and Preface to Logic employ archaic book covers with the titles and all reference removed, alluding to the changeability of facts and certain kinds of knowledge. Added metal elements aid in further obfuscation. The “tree” affixed to Ethics is Darwin’s first sketch for the theory of evolution. Monstrance features a mastodon jawbone found at Big Bone Lick, a dinosaur-bone-rich area ironically now very near Kentucky’s Creation Museum, a zone where claims of literal Biblical truth supersede all others. Votive borrows an image of a candelabra from a fourteenth century Giotto work; turned upside down, what were the outline of wax and flame resemble pendulous genitalia or some other amorphous shape, transforming an object that was intended to illuminate into one that obscures.
Wilcox is an artist very much concerned with process. His paintings can appear deceptively simple but each has been approached with enormous and careful attention. Every mark, no matter how small, is measured, purposeful and considered. Nostalgia utilizes image transfers of the artist’s parents and explores what the title suggests. Memory, softened by time, is held in at the edges. Heart Sutra references a Buddhist sutra: Form is empty, emptiness is form. After careful study, what at first may seem just a void reveals itself to be shimmering and full of small gifts. Perfectly imperfect, Essential Work and Untitled elevate materials, challenging vision and perspective while questioning form and emptiness. Wilcox’s works sing of patience and contemplation, and hint at answers in the just beyond.
Signified by restraint, commitment to a kind of material and aesthetic austerity, and an appreciation for the sensations of chance encounters, these three artists are inquisitors. Whereas Celeste curiously scours junkyards and dumpsters for items with the proper qualities, Guarnaschelli eyes bookshelves and their contents, as well as our collective histories, for truths to amplify and subvert, and Wilcox, using his own memories and experiences, mines the canvas for the perfect relationship between hue, sheen, and minimal mark.
– John Brooks