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  • Provenance

    Eleven Rivington, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I think because the surface quality of a lot of paintings of mine, or paintings I enjoy, are so uniform, they enter the sculptural category. I often just talk of them as objects.” JACOB KASSAY

    With its shimmering silver surface, Jacob Kassay’s Untitled, 2009 transforms blankness into aura and emptiness into reflection. A quintessential example from his series of silver paintings, the composition oscillates between absence and presence: devoid of any painted colour or illustrated image, it acts as an object in space, absorbing all the lights, shadows, colours and images of its environment. In order to capture these effects on canvas, Kassay makes use of the photographic process of development, essentially dipping, bathing and ‘fixing’ his paintings (just as the light projected from a camera ‘fixes’ its image into place). By layering the canvas with a thin layer of gesso– an acrylic primer that renders the surface impermeable– it is able to hold the metallic deposit that results after being electroplated. The outcome is a reflective, iridescent surface, which is at times framed by a black border, a by-product that occurs when any part of the canvas is left unprimed and exposed to the chemical solutions in the electro-plating tank.

    Conceived as a response to space, Untitled, 2009 interrelates with its surrounding architecture and audience, possessing a glimmering surface that depicts the ever-changing presence of its setting. It conveys both the movement of colours and changes in light, which subtly and continually vary the painting’s appearance. This experimental and unpredictable method of creation reveals the mental and physical actions that generate art, and is crucial to Kassay’s practice, effectively demonstrating his self-proclaimed interest in “gestures of absolute transformation of surface”, (Jacob Kassay, in an interview with A. Wallestone, Art in America, 6 October 2011). Indeed, rather than trying to represent or convey a real object, the drama of the content rests upon the canvas’ ability to collapse its environment into the entropic materiality of its surface. The chromed painting thus comes to evoke a mirror– reflecting the world around it, the piece slows the viewer’s process of observing, closing the distance between what is seen and how we see it. In doing so, Untitled, 2009, comes to represent a refection of the act of looking itself, relying upon the very nature of its opacity as a condition of visibility.



acrylic and silver deposit on canvas
121.9 x 91.4 cm. (48 x 36 in.)
Signed and dated 'Kassay 09' on the reverse.

£70,000 - 90,000 

Sold for £158,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
[email protected]
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 16 October 2013