Jan 15th 2010

Joseph Cassan: Matters


816 W Newport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

Opening Friday, January 15th, from 6PM - 9PM

On view through Saturday, February 20th

Joseph Cassan’s sculptural practice unfolds from a desire to concretize the ‘ephemeral. Using commonly found hardware store materials, each sculpture is concerned with realism and iconography. A swan, seen in the round, made out of polystyrene and caulk creates the illusion of the bird and its reflection. A hovering pair of pink panties, meticulously crafted out of wire and metal mesh, curiously monumentalizes adolescent sexuality, and even further, the creation of man. Cassan’s sculptural vignettes lack the context, or support structures (swan without water, underwear without body), that we are accustomed to seeing. The artistʼs omission heightens our viewing. We are being shown what is essential, creating a humorous tongue-in-cheek spiritual presence. In a Pop play on scale, we see an oversized sculpture of a bar of soap that is ripe with an elegant configuration of bubbles, which the artist has cut from glass. The beauty of the bubbles captures Cassan’s theme of secular spirituality.

Cassanʼs flirtation with realism stems from his interest in classical sculpture and religious art. The illusionism that is at play here breaks down upon closer inspection, revealing the messiness of human creation. The imperfection and gesture of the artistʼs hand, as opposed mechanical fabrication, subtly addresses the idea of sculpting and making. Cassan’s work intensifies when he starts to break down the lines of straightforward representation. A crumpled paper towel and an artist-rendered bandage becomes a humble, yet delicately beautiful Pietà. Throughout all of his pieces, Cassan strives to validate his existence by embracing that which is beautiful, and by doing so he reveals a distinctly human attribute: frantically attempting to connect everything with greater spiritual meaning.

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