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