Critics’ Picks

Walt Cassidy, The Broad and Beaten Way, 2006, color photograph, 15 x 15”. From the series “The Inferior Orbs,” 2006.

New York

Walt Cassidy

89 Eldridge Street
April 2–May 9, 2010

In his first solo exhibition, “The Protective Motif,” Walt Cassidy maps his own unconscious through a group of photographs, drawings, and sculptures filled mostly with geometric forms. Whether these triangles, dots, and lines are meditations on his inner experience (or instead diversions from it) remains unclear, yet the results are visually engaging, if affected.

Though his series of photographs “The Inferior Orbs,” 2006, seems to refer unselfconsciously to the now popularized new age dream catchers, the circular form present in works including The Broad and Beaten Way is a bicycle wheel that was a material base for Cassidy’s sculptures. His work does, in fact, draw conceptually from a sustained interest in occult symbolism, though the connection between that and his use of found and very personal objects (he has used a former beloved’s wedding ring in a work) seems arcane.

Successful are Cassidy’s elegant forays into cut brass, including the quasi-Futurist or perhaps Duchamp-inspired Attack on the Ascending, 2010. In a reversal from his concern with the symbolic potential of recycling, his recent works highlight the foundational relationships among essential shapes, while also demonstrating the outcome of childhood exercises the artist learned from his psychologist father. Cassidy repeats and reinvents his motifs in multiple media, which suggests a sense of continuity among the works, and among his many lives since emerging as club kid Waltpaper in the early 1990s. While some of the works evince beautiful and genuine moments, it remains difficult in this show to ascertain just what Cassidy is protecting.