JOHN ARSENAULT: A GHOST IS OCCUPYING MY HEART at Clampart

© John Arsenault, "Their God Called Me, He Said Not To Worry Cause We're Not The Sinners Going To Hell, It's THEM," 2009, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City  

About 4 years ago I moved to NYC for the first time and started as an intern at Clampart, in Chelsea. On my very first day of work we installed John Arsenault's solo show of self portraits titled Filthy Gorgeous. At the time I was very much learning how to come to terms with my sexuality; I was also avoiding making pictures about it, because I knew the moment I did would be the moment I would have to actually address the issue. John's self portraits rendered glimpses into intimate moments of love, heartbreak and celebration often engorged by a tongue-in-cheek quality that is characteristic of most of his work. It was then that I realized how imperative it was that I address my issues through my own work.

© John Arsenault, "Please Don't Stay In Touch," 2009, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City  

John has a new body of work titled A Ghost Is Occupying My Heartwhich will be on view at Clampart from January 6th through February 12th. I am so very excited to see the work because, one, it is so beautiful and honest and, two, I can relate to it in so many ways. I recently moved to 3,000 miles cross country to Seattle in hopes of escaping the break up of my last long-term relationship. I have been dealing by making pictures, mostly self portraits, that attempt to translate the abstract, horrifyingly puzzling feelings that often engulf me into images that hopefully release them. John Arsenault relocated from New York City to Provincetown, MA for a year of self-discovery after the end of his nine-year romantic relationship. The work that came out of this period of healing is arresting; the self portraits take on a darker sort of painful elegance driven by the ways of heartbreak. These are beautifully complimented by subtle still life imagery that serves as much needed punctuation -they feel like whispers, sweet and faint but mournful and plaintive. 
© John Arsenault, "You're Lost In Me & I Don't Get It," 2009, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City  
I've written about the relationship between love and pain before, both feelings eternally codependent and capable of manifesting themselves in the most surprising of ways. Together these new photographs by John Arsenault present an honest portait of a period in the artist's life that is clearly governed by pain, which in turn yields a group of photographs that are far more powerful than his former more light-hearted work. I am happy that some of the theatrics of the previous work can be seen in the image titles for the new work, but the images themselves remain autonomous. Where I would generally argue against the need for so much nudity, in this case I am not bothered for it is subdued by a somber, unresolved narrative that is beautifully and painfully relatable. 
Make sure to check out the show at Clampart, also John is a pretty awesome dude!
January 6th-February 12th
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 6th, 6:00PM
© John Arsenault, "Good Luck," 2009, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City
© John Arsenault, "Thinking of Tracey," 2008, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City
© John Arsenault, "Hydrangea," 2008, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City
© John Arsenault, "Barely Breathing," 2009, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City  
© John Arsenault, "Heave Knows I'm Miserable Now," 2008, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City 
© John Arsenault, "Daisy's Unicorn," 2008, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City
© John Arsenault, "Forget About My Tainted Heart, It's You I Keep My Legs Apart For," 2009, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City 
© John Arsenault, "Your Judging Is NOT Fun," 2009, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City
© John Arsenault, "Your Ignorance Could Smother The World," 2008, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City
© John Arsenault, "I Can't Stand How Much I Miss You," 2009, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City