Fiend in the Void
Allegra LaViola Gallery is pleased to present Fiend In The Void, a solo exhibition of works on paper and sculpture by Casey Jex Smith. For his third solo show at the gallery, Smith has decided to pursue two of the most controversial subjects of our time: religion and politics. As a practicing Mormon, Smith’s interest in religion, and inclusion of it as a subject matter in his work, has been ongoing. This election cycle of 2012 has brought Mormonism to the front of the world stage as Mitt Romney runs for election as President of the United States of America. Smith, instead of retreating into a safe corner and remaining silent about his relationship with his church and the increasing interest surrounding it, has come out with all guns blazing.
The opening night of the exhibition will contain a live action performance by Smith and gallery visitors. Two volunteers will take up the roles of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and audience members will get to decide the fate of the election using Dungeons and Dragons dice, rules and attacks. Smith will act as Dungeon Master of the game, and the ultimate prize is his vote: the battle winner the night of the opening will be the real life ballot Smith casts in his swing-state home of Ohio.
Using the world of sci-fi/fantasy, Dungeons & Dragons, and Mormon imagery as a springboard for exploration, Smith has created a world where Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are not just candidates in a race, but also but also mythical heroes in an imagined world. This insertion of major public figures into fantastical worlds is not without precedent, but Smith’s incorporation of religion, fantasy and art history is both unique and unusual. Smith is not interested in labels or lines: an appreciation of the wider sense of the world is required to fully appreciate the work.
Smith’s exquisitely rendered drawings, often ink on paper, are manifest with details. Both highly skilled as a draftsman, and obsessive by nature, Smith imbues his drawings with a radiant energy that draws us into his carefully constructed, and highly coded, world. Each intimate rendering is an exploration of several higher grounds—the domain and fate of the soul are as present in the work as more transitory concerns. We can blink and miss an entire episode in a piece, but, luckily, it is still there waiting for us once we reopen our eyes. Casey Jex Smith lives and works in Ohio. He holds a BFA from Brigham Young University and an MFA from The San Francisco Art Institute. He has shown his work at the Drawing Center, Yerba Buena Center of the Arts, and Swarm Gallery, Oakland. His work has been reviewed on artnet.com; Beautiful Decay, Time Out Chicago, and Fecalface.