1xRUN alumni Jesse Kassel returns to Inner State Gallery this November with Bandos & Stolos, a new body of work from the Detroit-based artist capturing abandoned cars and homes left as entropy takes over in the forgotten places of the city. These cars, old and new, symbolize a core element of American history that Kassel captures with a fluid and evolving style all his own, blending acrylic and collage. Pairing alongside legendary Colorado-based artist Mike Giant, Kassel was the only choice as the two share a tireless work ethic, as well as unique styles all their own. Read on as Jesse Kassel gives us the story behind his latest vehicular graveyards and more…
1xRUN: Let’s talk a little bit about this series, what is the overall theme of Bandos & Stolos?
Jesse Kassel: For this body of work I have interpreted these scenes pulling from the texture, colors and compositions that dominate them. The skeleton of a 1940 Buick Roadmaster rusting in an overgrown field next to a group of stripped and torched 2015 Ford trucks. A building full of prized classic cars being crushed by a collapsing roof. For me experiencing these visions first hand is essential to fully appreciating the sense of beauty and story behind how such places have become what they are.
1x:What materials were used to create these paintings? How long did they take?
Kassel:These are acrylic paintings on canvas with collage. The time spent on each one varies by size and complexity, anywhere from 2-5 days but I often revisit a piece after a while when I see something I’d like to change or add.
1x: Tell us about how the idea and execution came about?
Kassel: I start with a drawing of shapes and composition that are to my liking then start building up color and texture. I keep a loose hand to enhance the disjointed nature of the subject matter. I try not to overstate anything but there are clear focal points in all of them. I’ve been using a limited palette that reflects the colors that are most prominent in the scenes they are inspired by. The use of collage is critical to these paintings because it allows me to maintain hard edges and create texture variation depending on the surfaces I am interpreting.
1x:Do you work off of photo references or create from a specific scene for these pieces?
I use photo reference but with heavy manipulation of shape/color/composition. There is also a lot of reliance on memory, there is a specific sensation when visiting these “car graveyards” and I try to capture that in a way that isn’t as apparent in photographs. I also add letters and numbers to the compositions that are references to friends and family, I feel this helps them look less representational and is just fun to do in general. The goal is to create a sense of movement that isn’t going anywhere, as these cars and buildings have been sitting in the same place for months or years they are constantly being altered by nature and humans. I like to visualize the cars as is if I were able to see their evolution through time lapse footage, from the point they were dropped there and have been stripped, burned, rusted, overgrown with vegetation or whatever and the painting is where the film has stopped.
1xRUN: Where else can people find out more about your work?
Jesse Kassel: Instagram @Jesse_Kassel