Nashville artist Casey Pierce is known for creating huge, hyperrealistic collage paintings featuring larger-than-life figures and vibrant, surreal pop culture motifs.
Driven in part by his own desire to take refuge from our image-saturated culture, his recent work has taken a difficult turn towards simplicity and restraint. “Architectureality,” his latest solo exhibition to open at the Red Arrow Gallery, features minimalist abstract paintings on shaped canvases that link painting and sculpture. There are no people and few colors, only unique objects or geometric shapes, shaping and holding cold spaces where viewers can, as he writes in his artist statement, “take a visual breath “.
Pierce spoke with The Tennessean about his recent work and his new exhibition, on display at the Red Arrow Gallery from September 8 to October 8. 7.
What inspired “architecture”?
In recent years, I have focused more and more on shape and color. I felt like I had something to prove with painting, as if I always had to include my skills in realism. Now I feel free to paint according to my taste.
I am also constantly inspired by scientific developments. While making the paintings, I think my interest in science and technology found its place in the work. Science makes possible things that make the world surreal, even alien, and art can do it in its own way.
The work explores imaginary and real restraint. What is the difference for you?
Most of my favorite artists have one thing in common. They distill their ideas down to the essential. Complexity disguised as simplicity. Like a Kubrick movie, or an Eames chair. They all exercise restraint in order to create a structure to which they hang their ideas, and that imaginary structure then interacts in the real world.
What effect did you hope to create by shaping your canvases?
The works are all about creating and shaping space with an object. They are all image and object. I think when you’re around them they bring equal attention to both, allowing people to switch between the way they look at each room from moment to moment. I am also enthusiastic about great architecture and wanted to put that into work. My dad always pushed me to be an architect and I actually lived on the architecture floor of my dorm during my freshman year of college, but then I discovered painting, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else at the time. I think you have to become obsessed with something in order to progress.
Does your cinematographic production influence your painting?
They definitely play against each other. If art had personality types, I think music videos would be the extrovert with the gift of chatter and paintings and other art items would be the introvert with lots of thoughts and ideas, but not need to tell you about it right away.
What impact do you hope the show will have on viewers?
I guess I always hope that when someone is near my job, they feel like they are in an interesting place.
If you are going to
When: 8 Sep-Oct 7
Or: Red Arrow Gallery, 919 Gallatin Ave.
Other: A reception will be held on opening night at 6 p.m. in conjunction with the East Side Art Stumble. There will also be a public chat with Pierce about the show from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on September 29, moderated by art critic Joe Nolan.
Following:First major non-objective art exhibition in Nashville opens this weekend