Jacob Kassay

(B. 1984, New York) Kassay currently lives and works in New York City and is represented by 303 Gallery. He holds a BFA from the State University of New York, Buffalo (2006).

Jacob Kassay is a post-conceptual artist best known for his work in painting, filmmaking, and sculpture. Kassay’s work is primarily concerned with a formal approach to the placement and objectivity of paintings. Adhering to a set of strict reductive strategies shared by modern artists, Kassay’s work focuses on situating objects according to their spatial limits while foregrounding the experience of the contingencies and provisional duration of their exhibition.

‘Untitled’, 2011 (featured) has been constructed in the neo-minimalist style in which the artwork is typically meant to be of purely aesthetic value, designed to focus only on the visual and the superficial, rejecting all further meaning. However, by using the format of a diptych, Kassay cultivates a relationship between the two canvases. As a result, Kassay rather unusually infuses the sterile and superficial aesthetic of neo-minimalism with the suggestion of a personal and intimate dialogue between the two canvases.
This effect is very typical of Kassay’s process. The artist is known for manipulating and conditioning the experiences of those that witness his work. Kassay has described his work as the relationship between structured forms and the individuated body. His process is one whereby traditional media are used to amplify the audience’s instinctual responses to their environment.

Jacob Kassay is also well known for his innovative approach to curation. Some of his installations focus on the multi-sensory experience of his audience. Often his work occupies a space between painting, sculpture and interactive installation, taking inspiration from the surrounding space. Kassay reflects, distorts and relates to both the architectural environment in which his pieces are shown and the way the audience moves through this space. An iconic example of this is his installation, ‘HIJK’ at Xavier Hufkens, Belgium (pictured bellow).

By conditioning the space, colour and even the sound of the viewer’s surroundings, Kassay’s pieces of work expose the mechanics of how we respond to our environment. As such, the artist applies a structural approach to our biological mechanisms of sight and spatial recognition.

Jacob Kassay’s work is conceived as a response to space. The arrangement of his work and how the pieces interact with their surroundings – and ultimately with their audience – is key to understanding the essence of his work. Kassay’s paintings interrelate and form multiple dialogues: with each other, with the space around them and with the viewer.
‘Chrome Paintings’

Kassay is perhaps most well- known for his silver paintings, made using an electroplating technique that references early photography, which warp the reflection of their viewers as well as depicting subtle changes in light throughout the day. Form, surface and physicality are key in Kassay’s work, which is conceived as both softly gestural and ambiguous in its complexity.

Critic Alex Bacon has written that these paintings “actively pose the question—what does it mean to be represented?…This kind of aesthetic activity is suspended somewhere between the “real” world that is reflected, and the particular aesthetic world a painting inhabits as an…autonomous thing”.

“These works are evocative of Robert Ryman, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. “There’s no reason that we can’t go back to the past and rehash ideas that maybe you thought weren’t complete”, the artist says.
Kassay has participated in a number of solo and group exhibitions including MoMA PS1, New York, ICA, London, Art: Concept, Paris, France, Protocinema, Istanbul, Turkey, Fondation Ricard, Paris, Kunsthalle Andratx, Mallorca, Spain, ME Contemporary, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Collezione Maramotti, Italy.

Works