Jacob Kassay: Familiarity superseding reflection?

Jacob Kassay
Jacob Kassay, BRU, 2016, aluminum and urethane, 83 7/8 x 38 3/4 x 63 1/2 inches (213 x 98.4 x 161.3 cm).

Contributed by Sharon Butler/ In “H-L,” Jacob Kassay’s second solo show at 303 Gallery, the artist has left behind the silver-covered canvases for which he is best known. In the new work, he contemplates space, introducing white aluminum and urethane sculptures that look like architectural details. 

Jacob Kassay
Jacob Kassay, BUF (detail), 2016.

One of the conspicuously prolific painters mentioned in numerous essays about Zombie Formalism, Kassay has always made elegant, well-crafted work with intellectual underpinnings that carry it beyond mere decorativeness. These pieces, although three-dimensional, seem to be rooted in the same strategy.

Here is an excerpt from the press release for the show:

Kassay’s new sculptures explore these systems in which architecture both latently shapes and eludes conscious sense. This rote coding of gestures causes the awareness of one’s surroundings to slowly erode, with familiarity superseding reflection. Thickening the peripheral features and interstices of interior space that are routinely used but disregarded, Kassay reframes how attention is built into its surroundings.

Three architectonic sculptures within the exhibition terminate in dead ends and reroute one’s circulation through the gallery. Modeled on separate stairwells at 1:1 scale, these works present corridors whose connective function is severed, neither ascending nor descending.  These disconnected passages form a series of transitions that hover in an architectural uncanny, somewhere between model and fragment, calculated rendering and lived space.

Railings are affixed along the gallery wall, framing it as a transited space.  These supports are lined with Braille characters without syntax, extruding the eponymous letters of the exhibition – H for one, L for the other. This fixed-scale language communicates nothing other than prehensible vocalizations: embedded sighs and inaudible drones which trail off into space.

And they look very good, too. But the work also seems somewhat out of step with the shambolic and angst-ridden aftermath of the presidential election.  In these uncertain times, I hope artists don’t just settle for “embedded sighs and inaudible drones.” Let’s put some shout back into art.

Jacob Kassay
Jacob Kassay, installation view: “H-L,” 303 Gallery, 2016.
Jacob Kassay
Jacob Kassay, installation view 2, “H-L,” 303 Gallery, 2016.

Jacob Kassay: H-L.” 303 Gallery, Chelsea, New York, NY. Through December 22, 2016.

Ben Godward
On view at Slag in Bushwick: Ben Godward, Take Me Back Where My Memories Remain (A Cold Rain), 2016, hand-pigmented urethane resin and acrylic, 24 x 30 inches.

Related posts:
Speculating on Andy Boot and Zombie Formalism
New Image Painters challenge Zombie Formalists
New geometries: Embracing narrative and content

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