David Kassan (update)

Despite having previously written about him in 2008 and again in 2010, I still struggled a bit in trying to describe David Kassan’s approach to his portrait and figurative work.

He certainly doesn’t flatter his subject, but neither does his deliberately seek out the grotesque (as, say, Lucian Freud). Words like “honest” or “direct” don’t seem to carry it. The best I could think of was “unblinking”.

It’s as though Kassan opens his eye to his subjects with the intention of taking them in in their entirety, from the minute visual details of their physical appearance to the overall effect of their personality and mood.

He paints in keenly observed notation of color, value and texture, often setting his carefully studied subjects against rough backgrounds, which are one of the few areas in which he lets the paint come forward as paint, preferring to submerge the paint into its role as a medium for the image and the artist’s vision.

In addition to the paintings on his site, there is also a selection of drawings, mostly in charcoal on toned paper.

Kassan has established the Kassan Foundation, that gives out two 5k grants each year, one in visual art and one in music.

Kassan teaches classes and workshops, and offers instructional portrait videos on painting and drawing on DVD, and one by direct streaming.

In addition, he has a number of free shorter videos on YouTube, mostly of demo sessions, and also describing his latest venture, the parallelPALETTE.

3 Replies to “David Kassan (update)”

  1. Thank you for sharing this work. That is a unique way to describe the work but does make sense. This is my first time viewing his portraits. They seem somber and sad like something is ailing them that they want to tell you but cannot.

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