William (Bill) Catling
“Navigating the Deep Pelagic”
“Catling’s wonderfully down-to-earth works expand our capacity to understand that our bodies are vehicles for understanding—not merely tools for physical transport, but occasions for journeys that take us far beyond the literal distances we actually travel, into dimensions commonly referred to as internal, subjective, poetic, existential, or spiritual.”- Los Angeles Art Critic-David Pagel
This body of work explores how the horizontal and vertical interact; as they relate to birth and death, the spiritual and the physical, water and vapor, matter and spirit. The boat forms hover in the horizontal liminal spacebetween the fluidity of liquid and the intangibility of air; functioning as a kind of container for the human spirit. These forms reflect the interior space humans occupy at the soul level, the deepest part of the self. The works exist as a way of seeing in association with the power of memory, suffering and hope. The boat forms and the nests are symbolic of an internal journey, of silent prayer, of transitional spaces; quietly impacting the area around them or the viewer who comes close. The usage of clay reinforces a connection to the earth and the way we are rooted to the land while the vessel forms create a way of navigating deep waters. As a whole, the work creates a type of mapping where there are no landmarks, no place to anchor, and no way to know the way, without an upward gaze into the heavens.
Life is affirmed by using earthen materials, ancient references are explored, intuitive connections formed, and transcendence is sought in the deeply spiritual. The work is about the continued discovery of the true human condition residing deep within us.
The work is designed to be symbolic of an internal journey, quietly impacting the space around it or the viewer who comes close. The figures have a rough, textured surface, while branches and wings stand in for arms, signifiers of a different kind of power in their absence.
The figures are created to emit an archaic sensibility, a strong connection of the past to the present. The work is inspired by the challenge of life experiences, sufferings and recurring themes from the search for wholeness.
In the work, an attempt is made to address the loss of the natural sense of being human, that is the deeply intuitive sense of identity. Humanity has become disconnected from the natural rhythms of life and the deep spiritual truths of life.
The condition of the figures lend themselves to the viewer’s engaging in the process of “reconnection” by joining in the transcendent element of the work. The figures lead us into the possibility of the invisible world and spiritual uplift within various stages of contemplation. Their feet are anchored to the earth while the body is stretched upwards as if towards the heavens.
The work projects an ancient, archaic oneness of humanity’s need for the internal search for direction and meaning. The work challenges the viewer to re-examine their relationship to the spiritual and to the need for an internal life. The art is an attempt to raise the viewer’s consciousness above the distracted, destructive and unaware content of much of contemporary life, to an upward and inward journey of spiritual transcendent experience, through the archaic, elementary order of the human figure.
Presented by the Progress Gallery. 2021