Acclaimed Artist David Kassan to Speak at Shalom Austin JCC

Acclaimed Artist David Kassan to Speak at Shalom Austin JCC

Artist, David Kassan, painting life-size portrait of 11 Holocaust survivors.

Artist David Jon Kassan will discuss art as testimony at the Shalom Austin Jewish Community Center Oct. 2. Art As Testimony. An Evening With David Kassan will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Born in 1977 in Little Rock Arkansas, Kassan is an internationally recognized contemporary American painter, best known for his life-size representational paintings, which combine figurative subjects with symbolic textured abstract backgrounds. A form of social documentary, Kassan’s paintings are often described as raw, poignant and profoundly honest, capturing humanity in its true form. As an artist, he acts as an empathetic intermediary between the subject he portrays and the viewer. More than simply replicating his subjects, Kassan seeks to understand them. He seeks to capture the essence of those he paints, imbuing them with their own voice.

Kassan is a lauded realist painter who brings “Facing Survival” to USC Fisher Museum of Art following his residency with the museum and USC Shoah Foundation in 2018. Kassan’s works can be seen in many public and private collections worldwide. He is represented by Gallery Henoch (Chelsea), New York, NY and The Maxwell Alexander Gallery, Los Angeles. Kassan lives and works in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Brooklyn, NYC. His art has been exhibited at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery in London, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, among others. Kassan is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including the Allied Artists of America Gold Medal of Honor, The BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery in London, and The William F Draper Grand Prize.

Kassan is also teaching a three-day drawing workshop, David Kassan: Drawing the Portrait from Life, Oct. 4-6 at the Coppini Academy in San Antonio.

The focus of Kassan’s workshop will be on life drawing methods to investigate the underlying rhythm, expression and emotion of the modern portrait. Students will explore charcoal on toned paper with one pose for the duration so that they can patiently observe and record their findings. All observation will be cumulative and used towards finishing the final work.

Instruction will include discussion of practical technical information on the use of charcoal and white chalk, the properties of light on form and how the topography/depth of the face’s form can be visualized and represented. Students will learn to transcend the materials so that their full concentration is placed on expressing the model’s presence and emotion. Kassan’s goal is to give students a sense of community, where anything art related (books, galleries, artists, techniques) can be discussed, debated, enlightened and experienced.

Also this fall, “Facing Survival | David Kassan,” Kassan’s exhibition featuring paintings and drawings of more than a dozen Holocaust survivors, presented by the University of Southern California Fisher Museum of Art and USC Shoah Foundation, opens Sept. 18, 2019, at the Fisher Museum of Art in Los Angeles, California, supported by the Norris Family Foundation.

In preparation for painting their portraits, artist David Kassan recorded his subjects’ testimonies, getting to know them deeply. His intimate understanding of his subjects and of their unique histories enables him to convey a sense of their experiences during the Holocaust as much as it does their individual appearances now: The visceral, lifelike imagery captures each person’s spirit, pain and dignity. Kassan’s portraits become a form of testimony in their own right, revealing the luminous visage of resilience, the complex nature of survival and a contemporaneous reflection of their lives in the aftermath of genocidal violence. ■

For more information on Kassan, visit www.davidkassan.com. For more information on the Coppini Academy workshop in San Antonio, visit cacademy.faso.com/workshop/21379/david-kassan-drawing-the-portrait-from-life.

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