Monday, September 30, 2013

Brendan Cass, one in 4.4 million

Journal page on Brendan Cass
There must be millions of living artists in the world. In fact I just looked it up and it turns out there are 4.4 million active artists in the USA alone, of which 3.2 million are recreational artists, 600,000 are professional artists and 122,000 are art-degree-seeking college students (

The figures are mind-blowing, or maybe disconcerting, but that's not what this post is about. In this crowded field, how does one choose artists to look at or to focus on, those who can answer questions one might have or give one ideas? Mostly, for me anyway, it's luck or serendipity. Usually wherever I land up turns out to be instructive or inspiring in some way or other. In this way, while reading recently about Donald Baechler, he mentioned Brendan Cass (b. 1974, American) as a young artist to watch. So I followed that lead and it proved to be a good one to share. The image at left shows some of Brendan Cass's paintings, and below that some journal notes from a video interview at a show in Lars Bohman Gallery in ?Stockholm, Nov-Dec 2009.

I'm not sure if this artist has hit the big time yet but he's certainly heading that way. The paintings are large to very large (e.g. 6' x 12') and are loosely based on photos. They seem very free and spontaneous but he takes a long time over them. He uses store-bought small canvases to try out colour combinations. Often he works from the photo first and goes to visit the place/country afterwards, and he has a particular liking for Northern countries and winter landscapes. He uses bright, even fluorescent colours, saying he likes to load a painting with as many colours as possible. The paintings are very gestural and loaded with texture and yet they don't look messy. They remind me of Peter Doig in their evocation of mood and space. He has done at least one of Ireland (Glendalough) which I would love to see but haven't been able to find it.

In a video of a studio visit filmed in 2012 by New Art TV, Cass's studio is an old railway station on a disused train line near a river in Connecticut  -- idyllic really. Here it is ...

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