30 Under 35 2019

Jordan Kasey Branches into the Architectural

Em Gallagher

Photography by Aubrey Mayer

Jordan Kasey in 2018 by Aubrey Mayer
Jordan Kasey in her Brooklyn studio, 2018.

Jordan Kasey’s colorfully vivid, gigantically-scaled oil paintings are of the earth, quite literally. Sitting in middle of the floor of Kasey’s Bushwick studio gives the distinct feeling of being in a canyon of the painter’s own creation, as her work surrounds us on all sides, easily careening to the reaches of the ceiling. It’s fitting that the Chicago-raised artist’s breakthrough came not via portraits of people, per se. “Going way back, I was just painting rocks, rock formations and landscapes that would take the place of a figure as a portrait,” the painter says.

Mirror, 2018.

These days, Kasey’s canvases have expanded in subject matter, incorporating figures, or “blob people” as the artist jokingly calls them. “I like the paintings to look how they feel, rather than be anatomically correct people,” she says. That emotional weight of Kasey’s work is palpable, like in Hot Day, 2017, where an anonymous figure wilts on a dock overlooking the water, their generous body possessed by light. It plays into Kasey’s desire to activate her canvases by timeless and universal elements as simple as water meeting the sky. “I mean, we’re all drawn to the horizon,” Kasey says. “It’s this magical blue line. I’m interested in the idea of ‘here’s our reality,’ and then ‘here’s the big blue churning mystery.’ I think my work is a lot about that line, even if there’s not overt water or beach present.”

The Couch, 2018.

Kasey is in the final throes of preparing for a solo show with her gallery, Nicelle Beauchene, this winter, which the artist describes as taking a greater emphasis on architectural elements. Rocks have resurfaced again too, with Kasey showing charcoal drawings at Beauchene’s apartment project space simultaneously with the painting show. “I’ve been doing these drawings of ancient sculptures carved out of stone, which I started doing just for fun. Charcoal is really relaxing after pulling all this,” the artists arms gesture wildly around the studio, “out of my head.”