Hello Rachel here…

The Power Station, a new arts space in Dallas.

On a recent Wednesday, a couple of hours before sunset, an eclectic group gathered at Alden Pinnell’s alternative art space, The Power Station, to glimpse Jacob Kassay’s installed monochrome. What’s the big deal about Kassay? The wunderkind garnered $86,500, for one of his reflective paintings in 2009 right when the market buckled under the weight of bank loans gone wrong. Collectors, curators, writers, and local art lovers gathered for “beer, chicken wings, and art” as stated on the Facebook invite. Pinnell knows a thing or two about how to locals out to his art events.

The installation, No Goal, installed in the historical Power & Light building on Commerce St. was a “must-see” event preceding the Dallas Art Fair. Kassay’s reflective minimal paintings requires the viewer to engage with the space surrounding the work, not just the art itself. You need to actively participate in the installation by carefully examining the space around it. An essay that accompanies the installation entitled, ‘Parts and Wholes and Holes and Parts’ by Kassay reads, “The artwork, is in a sense an object within a larger object, just like a person can exist on his or her own, but when a mass of people begin to form, a different mentality emerges altogether. The movement, the feeling, and the ardor of the mass sings a different song from the single person. The mass can envelope you; the person can face you.”

The monochrome can mean nothing or everything, depending on your position and how you stand. They can be political in terms of place and perspective or apolitical absent of all meaning. The monochrome can also be spiritual with principles in Buddhism requiring long periods of reflection  or scientific using strict material principles to transforming the objects. This is not a wish-washy practice, these artists are straight ahead, consistent, and resolute. Kassay leads the generation of minimalists both in execution and practice.

Kassay is more pragmatic in his approach to minimalism by using scientific principles to bring his works to life. He elector-plates silver over a base of acrylic on canvas, plating only the face of the canvas to keep the work’s identity as a painting. Priming his canvases, then applying a thin layer of metal which adheres to the surface through a bath of electrified metal ions. The resulting mirrored reflection delights the vanity obsessed viewer.

As I enter the first floor of The Power Station, the largeness of the space confronts me. There is this large muslin fabric suspended from the ceiling to the floor across the main wall; spanning the length of the space. The soft fabric billows in the breeze, bringing light in and pushing light out. The muslin interacts within the sparse interior as an anchor, soft to the hard exposed pipes and beams. The space is minimal and what remains is the muslin and open space.

Artwork by Jacob Kassay now on view at The Power Station.

I make my way up the steep steps to the top floor to view the monochrome. There are two concrete like runways, on either side of the painting, beginning a few feet from the stairs that work their way all the way to the installation wall. For me, these concrete runaways remind me of enclosed power blocks where the electricity is held just beneath. The white installation wall juts out from the railing to 3/4 of the length of the room. You wonder if each of these objects work as part of the whole as they provide sources of reflection on the surface of the painting. The installation functions as both architectural support and environment.

This is a minimal exhibition where the object is just part of it, the interior plays a role as well as the viewer. The monochrome was not obvious to me, the silver color against the white wall does not make it an obvious object at first. As viewers walked in front of it, colors reflected begin to liven the painting, bringing it to life within the space. The muslin, controlled by the breeze, sways in and light flickers on the painting in a subtle dance between objects. You notice hues of grey, pink, and white. As the sun sunk further in the horizon, colors of green and dark grey emerged and a form that appeared as a head turned to the side juxtapose a crude facial impression. The green stairs on the side of the building played a role in the green hues found in the work. The exposed pipes and levers worked with the light, bringing forth more forms and colors. The collaboration between the windows, exposed interior, viewers, and movement of the fabric gave provided needed interest.

As I spent time upstairs, I noticed the other viewer’s interaction with the painting and Bertold Brecht’s quote, “Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it” came to mind. There was man with exaggerated verve on one side holding court to a captive audience and on the other a man quietly engaging with the monochrome, spending  time to notice it transform. Behind the installation wall a small quiet space complete with a large window was created. Peering out, I noticed how the attendees interacted with the space outside, congregating around the food and patio area. The wall also served as a sound barrier and shelter from the activity. This voided space allowed you to gain further understanding of the shift in spatial power that existed within the work.

It was all very interesting in the noticing of light on work almost too simple to realize. The simple meaning, if I choose to not give the art and space my full attention, I would not have discovered the simple beauty between art, object, and space.

 

— RACHEL VAN HORN

 

Jacob Kassay’s No Goal installation is on view through July 13th at The Power Station located 3816 Commerce Street, Dallas, TX 75226. Hours are Friday 1pm-5pm or by appointment contacting Danielle Avram Morgan phone 214 827 0163 or email danielle@powerstationdallas.com