Thursday, May 23, 2013

Artist Interview :: David Kasman

Get to know a Copley artist! David Kasman's works are currently featured in our "Fine Arts Work Center Fellows" exhibit in the upper gallery. A fellow in 2008, David spent the month of September in Provincetown, MA focusing on his loose, painterly canvases and abstract sculptures. Recently, the Co|So staff interviewed one of our multi-talented members about this work and his artistic career. 

1. Tell us about your work in the Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship Show.

They run the spectrum, but they were all painted from direct observation as opposed to working from photographs. It is a personal thing, but I cannot think of a single great painting, a painting that I really love, a single masterpiece, that was based on a photograph. When you boil it all down, a painting done from a photograph is a painting of a photograph; a painting done from life has the potential to convey something more visceral. My four paintings in this show focus on different aspects of the real world. The sailboat is about light, the dining room is about color, the Monhegan Blizzard is about atmosphere and the T-Rex is about plastic realization. 

David Kasman, Dinner Party Remains, 29 x 33, oil.

2. How would you characterize the arc of your career?

My first sculptures were abstract, wood pieces and, to this day, I consider abstract composition to be at the heart of all my work. From there, I spent a number of years focused on, so called, representational sculpture.  In 2002, I tried my first oil painting. Painting had not interested me until that point, because I had no real understanding of it. Once painting got a hold of me though, I couldn’t stop that either. And now, everything has fused together. My paintings have become more solid and my sculptures have become more fluid and painterly.

3. When did you realize that you wanted to become an artist?

When I was at Cornell, my sculpture professor, Jonathan Squire, saw my enthusiasm and he was encouraging me to transfer into Cornell’s Arts and Science School to become a sculpture major. As much as the idea appealed to me, I didn’t consider sculpture to be a realistic career option. But, life has a way of presenting second chances, so after I sold my laboratory equipment business in 1999, I decided to make my move and become a full time sculptor. Later, I added oil painting to my endeavors. I should mention that I am not comfortable calling myself an “artist”. To me, “artist” is a loaded term. Other people may label me that, and that is fine, but I call myself “a painter and a sculptor”.

David Kasman, Reflections at Dusk, 22 x 25, oil.

4. How did FAWC affect your art/artistic voice?

The biggest effect was from contact with the Mass College of Art, MFA students. Everybody except me was in that program. When you cut through everything, what the professors and students were completely obsessed with was doing something new, that is, breaking conventions and traditions as well as pushing limits. Of course, I had already thought about this to some degree, but confronting and addressing this goal, every single day, had a positive and important impact on me.

David Kasman, T-Rex, 21 x 25, oil.

5. Describe a poignant moment/experience from your time in Provincetown.

There were a few MFA students that I used to hang out with during my stay at the FAWC. One of them told me that his professor had suggested that we might think about our earliest interests as sources for inspiration, as clues to our most elemental interests. My earliest obsession was dinosaurs, or more specifically, fossilized skeletons of dinosaurs. Suddenly, I realized that perhaps I should develop larger and more fossil-like versions of my sculptures! The results of this realization will form the core of my upcoming 2014 Copley Society solo show. Stay tuned …

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