Michele Horrigan Exhibition Text.
Portrait Cuts Itself Out On The Floor .
Pallas Projects, Dublin.
26th – 30th June 2013
Ramon Kassam’s recent body of paintings mark a new chapter of development in his practice. Motivated by visual and psychological factors of his immediate environment and moving away from the glutinous use of paint in previous work, Kassam now explores smooth subtleties of surface and material whilst addressing his relationship to his home city of Limerick. Yet, much like any city, what on the surface might appear straight-edged and muted crumbles into disarray on further investigation. Though on initial impression these paintings appear gentle and subdued, it soon becomes apparent that the canvas has been interfered with. Delving beneath the surface, the real story begins...
The repercussions of living in a city is central to Kassam’s ideology. Kassam likens urban surroundings and experiences to physically living within a painting, citing combinations of artificial colour and texture in a streetscape as part of his concept. Out of this close proximity with one another, whether queuing at a bus stop, walking on the street or shopping for groceries in a supermarket, inhabitants vehicles or structures are frequently colliding and jostling for visual precedence. Kassam simulates these situations concisely. Placing importance on arbitrary textures and colours in replication of an urban scenario and piecing them together, he pieces together the painterly gesture in much the same way as urban planners experiment with spatiality, splicing together opposite qualities endeavouring to create a new visual arrangement. His working methods incorporate an interruption within the flow of the subject matter, the surfaces have been deliberately hampered with to provide a viewer with as many alternatives and readings as possible within the work.
Denoting this intimacy of public interaction forced on an urban dweller, the forms employed take on an uncanny and sinister slant and an eeriness creeps into Kassam’s artworks. In Couple argue over rotated landscape the canvas is divided in a diptych. Kassam renders two figures in the throws of a quarrel on the left, depicted in angry reds and pinks. On the right, the cause of the argument sits; an unassuming landscape represented in cooler tones and lethargic brush strokes, floating sideways in a sublime fugue. More menacing is Discarded Paintings, where a focus is placed on the green area of, what could be, a new-build housing estate with butchered paintings positioned in the artworks foreground. The fresh gloss of construction and new buildings have faded in the scene, leaving behind the grey concrete colour of the unfinished, the miasma of an unfulfilled dream. Kassam’s interest in abandoned sites and hoardings leads to use of subdued colour to hold a mirror up to a post-Celtic Tiger. A sense of spatiality is implied within the composition of paintings within a painting, threatening to erupt from the canvas, straight lines being broken and challenged and perspectives brutally shattered.
This significance and play with titles goes on... Embedded paper tells me you’re awake… Portrait cuts itself out on the floor… Eyeing drawings on a window with a great Limerick sky … Inserted tape posing as a nude…Incomplete plein air waiting in the dark. Each canvas becomes a battlefield to question other environments. Succeeding in resonating for an audience long after the initial impact, these paintings radiate a feeling of kinship, a recognition.