In his exhibition work, Daniel Cavey focused on the consequences of human action upon the current biosphere.
CLOUD GALLERY, AMSTERDAM | 2016
In all the artist Daniel Cavey does, one will find three things consistently: impressive technical acumen, elaborate concepts, and, as he is a careful observer of human behaviour, genuine stupefaction. (The last of these qualities favours animals as tallies of human plights and blunders). One will also often find the esoteric language with which a scrutinise, well-read, and fixated mind explicates its artistic intentions and inspirations. This relationship between the artist’s aim to create compelling work and his obsession with near-paralyzing amounts of data are at the core of the artist’s endeavours and personality. And how much he is able to balance these seemingly distinct polarities are at the root of his successes.
In 2015, Cavey completed the first instalment of his ongoing exhibition cycle hosted by Cloud Gallery in Amsterdam. This exhibition was a technical and aesthetic feat featuring hundreds of wall-mounted, life-size lemmings in a continuous gesture of movement that spanned the gallery. So impressive was this feat, in fact, that it nearly outshined the content of his work, which the artist supported with scientific references and his highly litigious texts.
In Feather as Light, the second instalment of his exhibition cycle at Cloud Gallery, Cavey offers us an improved strategy. Intact in this exhibit are the technical achievements, the concepts, the aesthetic sensibilities, and the sincere skepticism regarding human thinking and action. What is different is that the primary subject of the exhibition is the bird, a less esoteric symbol than the lesser-known lemmings that has been transformed into metaphor with incredible clarity.
In the present exhibition, the artist is examining birds as an end result of the last mass extinction, the one which ended the age of the dinosaurs and also gave rise to human beings. And to be sure, this relationship between birds and human beings, which is both factual and figurative, is entrenched in a wealth of scientific data and terminology. Yet the relationship is not an unfamiliar one, and by employing an image that has captured the imagination of human beings since antiquity, Cavey is able to utilise the power of a symbol inextricably embedded in the human psyche. Even more deeply entrenched in the human psyche is death, rendered in this exhibition as a grotesque mass in no uncertain terms. What these clear and potent symbols contribute is more than just content, it is communicative power. And with this addition we see an artist evolving in his second sequential exhibition. We also see Cavey edging ever closer to the balance that makes masters.
- Anthony Sellaccio, IAC, ACC, AFS, AAM
CLOUD GALLERY, AMSTERDAM | 2015
Human beings are devout, mankind making myths and legends that persist through time, truth and reason. And myths are myriad, carrying precious kernels of our timeworn folklore as well as the frequently misconceived consensus of our popular culture. By these we so often abide, letting our imaginations inform us, and our ignorance lead us in taking actions that shape the world, for our actions are never our own property. Instead, what we do ripples and reverberates through a world diversely populated by non-humans, humans, and hewn together by the sharing of space and resources. It is from the darkness of eyes closed to these truths that ceramic artist Daniel Cavey calls forth the animals he carves and casts in clay.
Every association with any animal he chooses – birds, boars, dogs, wolves, sheep, and lambs - is what makes each one a unique metaphor. In his latest exhibition, Cavey has chosen lemmings, best known for the myth of their mindless mass suicides, to which they were supposedly driven by overpopulation. The myth is false, but the lesson is real, and humanity has failed to learn from either fiction or fact just as often as it has failed to learn from either myth or science that to live, out of ignorance, a life out of balance, is a fool’s journey to the precipice.
Today we see human beings driven progressively closer towards this edge by the politics, policies, and even personal choices that are compounding to make nations and environments uninhabitable. Cavey’s zoomorphic metaphors for mankind, therefore, though learned and specific, are by no means enigmatic. Quite contrarily, they are obvious, if not overlooked, and even a minimal awareness of events happening everyday around the world can easily reveal the impetus for the artist’s address and the imperative meaning of his message.
- Anthony Stellaccio, IAC, ACC, AFS