“Exoplanet” Jordan Kasey review by Elliot Purse

“Exoplanet”, an exhibition of work by Jordan Kasey at Nicelle Beauchene, is a welcome cluster of contradictions. The six paintings that make up the exhibition are at once haunting and charming, evocative and mundane, and frozen in perpetual motion. Commonplace imagery such as sitting pool side, having a meal, backyard hangouts, or playing piano lead the viewer through Kasey’s peculiar works that are as otherworldly as they are familiar. 

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“At The Table”, 2017, oil on canvas, 57 x 71 inches

The paintings, although surprisingly traditional in craft, let light and shadow pulsate unexpectedly across the monumental surfaces gradating between brilliantly layered colors. In “Upside-down Face” or “At the Table” unusual pinks, teals, and yellows dip in and out of the surfaces suggesting there could be some sort of David Lynch disco happening just out of view. 

The figures, which give a heavy nod to the statuesque forms of Picasso’s neoclassical period,  Fernand Legér, and Nicole Eisenman are strange ambivalent actors. They appear at once to be tectonically still while also stuck in continual motion. The painting, “Backyard at Night” especially lingers in this uneasy oscillation of slo-mo and stillness. A lumbering black licorice figure floats on a carpet of grass. It’s massive hand slowly lurches at one of the villi-like blades in a careless moment of pause. The gesture feels incomplete or mid-action contrasting the weight of its limbs and oppressively static pose.

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“Backyard at Night”, 2017, oil on canvas, 65 x 89 inches
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“Practicing Piano”, 2017, oil on canvas, 60 x 60 inches

The painting “Practicing Piano” gestates a similarly strange but puppeteer-like careening of motion. A disembodied face and hands hover downwards over the mammoth piano keys. Again, the gesture hangs in an in-between space as the analog keys are pressed down without release. The close cropping enhances the intensity of the sound and inevitable silence of a piano key held down forever. 

Not without a handful of readily identifiable influences, the exhibition still brings an abundance of painterly surprises, unique points of view, and careful consideration. Jordan Kasey is certainly a fresh voice to contemporary scene of figurative painting is sure to keep delivering on the imaginative imagery parsed out in “Exoplanet”. 

Elliot Purse

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