Artsy March 3, 2020
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Thaddeus Mosley, installation view.
Walking into Karma, visitors encounter a dense forest of Thaddeus Mosley’s sculptures made from cherry, bass, hickory, and walnut wood. The self-taught artist, now in his mid-nineties, salvages his material from sawmills, discarded building supplies, and the Forestry Division in his home city of Pittsburgh; his presentation is essentially an ode to a bygone landscape. Like a Lorax who expresses himself through mallet and chisel, Mosley speaks for the trees.
The works recall modernist greats and their tribal African antecedents. They forgo a sense of the contemporary for an appreciation of the past; slits and rings in the wood imply decades of natural history. The sculptures’ shapes range from short, squat stools to totemic vertical forms. In Totem for Nabta Playa (2016), Mosley carved circles and lines that evoke a secret language. Region in Suspension (1996), which features a thin plank propped between two thick, dark legs, conjures a human body. With their curving, delicately balanced limbs, many of the pieces suggest dance itself. When the lights go out and the gallery closes for the evening, I wouldn’t be surprised if all these sculptures started grooving together.