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The art of Jacob Kassay

emerging contemporary artists

The artful art of Jacob Kassay

Jacob Kassay; shaping the monochrome

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Fittingly for a show concerned with musicality, movement and performance, Kassay's L & M solo set the stage for an intriguing series of debuts, reprises and new roles for established performers.

Monochromes in white acrylic and a newly unveiled shade of blush pink (a colour which has since featured in a series of drawings and the artist's website) were teamed with sultry canvases of oxidised silver deposit.

Jacob Kassay, wall drawing and diptych

These mesmerising works, created by leaving the canvas unprimed before electro-plating, effectively invert the silver-plate paintings (a mirroring of mirrors) by producing a deeply scorched surface flecked with glittering threads of silver residue (detail, left).

And although an example of this technique had appeared almost a year previously at New York's Mitchell-Innes & Nash gallery, their suggestion of spangled fabrics or shimmering flesh provided a particularly apt addition to Kassay's balletic installation.

The show also featured a new take on the silver works, this time created on a length of paper. The slightly crumpled, curiously raw result failed to convince some critics, but its real importance lay in the artist's efforts to avert over-familiarity; a refusal, despite the phenomenal success of key early pieces, to compromise artistic evolution or drift into predictability.

Jacob Kassay, wall drawing and diptych

Kassay's all-white canvases and shaped stretchers had also debuted at Mitchell-Innes & Nash. At L & M, however, a pencilled intersection with the sequence of diptychs (left) seemed to signal a further phase in their development; a suggestive overlap consolidated by a triumphantly enigmatic showing at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in late 2011.

This, Kassay's first exhibition at a public institution in the UK, took on a two-tier format in response to the galleries' distribution over two floors of markedly different character.

While the ground floor space was dedicated to a configuration of silver works embedded within cloth-covered, half-visible wooden structures - a further attempt by the artist to establish a newer, more architectural context for his best-known works (page top) - the upper galleries (converted from a suite of 19th century stately rooms) were almost exclusively occupied by variations on the white monochrome.

Precisely anchored to their surroundings through strategies echoing the mathematical rigour of a neoclassical setting, the resulting installation proved to be one of Kassay's most cerebral, playful and satisfying to date.

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