Jacob Kassay - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 9, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I try to make things that seem natural to their environment – that’s why I choose painting anyway.” JACOB KASSAY

    The present lot is one of only five large-scale silver paintings produced by the young American artist Jacob Kassay. As a trained photographer, Kassay has translated many of photography’s essential techniques and concepts into his painting practice. In photography, as in the silver paintings, three elements are critical, namely light, colour and movement. As the critic Anthony Huberman states: “With their shimmering silver surfaces, his canvases transform blankness into aura and emptiness into reflection. These paintings have no colour, no paint and no image, but as objects in space they take on all the lights, shadows, colours and images of their surroundings” (A. Huberman, ‘Fields of Light’, in Mousse, issue 24, Summer 2010, pp.72–75).

    The silver paintings are primed, composed, painted and prepared on canvas in the studio and then finished by a process similar to mirror / silver plating. The production process and its alchemy being an integral part of the painting, Kassay treats illumination and transformation as primary subjects: “I was just interested in gestures of absolute transformation of surface…” (in A. Walleston, ‘Jacob Kassay: History’s Mirror’, Art in America, June 2011).

    Continuing the dialogue with the traditions of monochrome painting such as Robert Ryman, Kassay uses the application of paint as an essential element in his highly refined examination of the optical and material properties of the painting discipline. Yves Klein’s work also comes to mind, with his studies of monochromatic paintings and his study in chemistry in order to achieve the perfect blue. The character of the present work is particularly compelling because it recedes from the current discourse in contemporary art into a timelessness, challenging the linearity of art history.



acrylic and silver deposit on canvas
213.4 x 152.5 cm (84 x 60 in)
Signed and dated 'Kassay 11' on the overlap.

£100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £181,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

10 October 2012