Tony Cavalline’s paintings explore the subjectivity of memory and the mythologizing of experience. His multi-layered artworks conceive a world that exists at the intersection of thought, recollection, and experience, creating an unsteady bridge between the stories we imagine and what we keep as real. He is inspired by the idea that our experience of the world is a creation of our perception of the past. His artwork explores the stories we carry of where we have been, what we have seen, and who we are. Fragments of memory are gathered, reassembled, and sculpted in our minds to form the world we inhabit. Every recollection is an act of creation.
Cavalline uses motifs of mythology and narrative archetypes to present a story of paths, journeys, and wayfinding in his artwork. With suggestions of labyrinths both natural and built, Cavalline incorporates found materials such as maps, handwritten notes, and other ephemera (thread and string, feathers, stones, horns) to reflect the idea of a world seemingly formed of tactile scraps of consciousness. He mixes materials to depict walls, ladders, and path markers in an ambiguous pictorial plane, where there is no clear delineation between the 3D world of the image and the viewer’s world of paint, materials, and canvas. The personal visions Cavalline shares seek to offer viewers an unexplored perspective on the way our actualities form into memories, and so into identity.
The quests and wanderings embodied in his storied paintings act as a parallel to the changing and fantastical nature of our own remembered past. By drawing upon these ideas, Cavalline's artwork becomes an exploration of the stories we construct, the memories we keep, and the sad beauty of what is lost along the way. In seeing our own existence as a subjectively viewed story, we can allow our own experiences to be acts of creation.
For his exhibition, A Map & A Key, Cavalline offers a fragmented landscape of lost adventure and faint longing, pieced together from boyish ideas of an arcane and extraordinary world, softened and worn by years of misremembering. Using a rich combination of expressive mark-making, textural painting, and idiosyncratic collage, his compositions seek to capture memory as a moving cascade of fiction and recollection. Embedded with insignia that hint at the esoteric symbols of a forgotten culture, Tony Cavalline: A Map & A Key recalls a sensitive boy’s pure and desperate creation of mythology and speaks to a quiet and insistent longing for magic amid the devastating loss that comes with growing up.
Cavalline (b. 1982) received his BA in Studio Arts from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004 and a Digital Design Diploma from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 2009. Recent exhibitions include Associated Artists of Pittsburgh New Member Exhibition, Icehouse Studios, 2020; Say Nothing of My Fable, BoxHeart Gallery, 2018; The 45th Regional Juried Exhibition, Hoyt Center for the Arts, 2018; Physique, Panza Gallery, 2018; Humans Being, Percolate Gallery, 2017. He is the Arts, Culture, and History Specialist for the City of Pittsburgh.
View images from Tony Cavalline's 2021 BoxHeart Exhibition, A Map and A Key.