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Godspeed

From post-apocalyptic imagery to pop culture references, two painters explore a single theme

by Victor Reznik in Culture on 07 April 2011

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When close friends Casey Diebold and Adam Devarney both graduated from Pratt University their journeys as artists naturally took them to very different places. Devarney returned to the serenity of his native Burlington, VT, while Diebold stayed in Brooklyn to work as a commercial storyboard artist. Their diverging paths have finally crossed again in the form of "Godspeed," a collaborative exhibition opening 9 April 2010 at NYC's Sacred Gallery.

The loose concept comes from Devarney's suggestion of the phrase "God Speed"—a term that allows for their their work to be comfortably contained under one main theme, as well as individual interpretations. While Diebold played off the term more literally, depicting ungodly speeds and high-powered action, Devarney saw "Godspeed" as the loose English translation of the French salutation, bon voyage.

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Heavily influenced by skateboard culture and '80s illustration, Devarney's work mixes mediums, styles and aesthetics. "I am excited by the idea of taking things out of context and re-purposing them, the chemistry interests me," he explains. Working with wood panels, Devarney explores voyaging characters on the brink of self-destruction. His paintings follow the "vagabonds of the great beyond," who are fighting the inertia of their movement.

The past might inform the resulting anachronistic portraits, but they're firmly in the future. Delvarney says, "my work in this show comes from a soulful place. I am exploring characters, weary and worn down, voyagers who have been pushed to the limit. That is something everyone can relate to." While Devarney's stoic aviators put the viewer on edge, Diebold captures cinematic realism in incredible detail at frightening speeds.

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Diebold creates surreal graphics with dizzying movement and beautiful texture, an approach he says is informed by his "fascination with future dystopian culture and science fiction like 'Logan's Run,' or fictional gang movies like 'The Warriors.'" His love of films shows in the multiple layers of allusion in his work, from Alex Cox to George Miller. His choice to depict the action at a particular moment in the narrative forces viewers to think of the infinite possibilities, creating a dreamlike effect.

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"Godspeed" opens at Sacred Gallery this Saturday, 9 April 2010, and runs through 30 April 2010.

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