October 2, 2023
This week we recognize David Cass David Cass, and his painting practice focused on climate change, rising sea levels and waters.
Cass creates three-dimensional paintings and installations using exclusively found materials sourced at flea-markets and antique fairs; though his practice also involves photography, digital media, writing, sculpture and curation. He has made responsible travel a key component of his practice, as well as his exhibition activities.
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Rising Horizon is a series of paintings in oil, with each work exploring aspects of our changing Earth: from commentary on rising sea levels, to the importance of re-using and recycling materials. These works, including Slides and Sounds, 2017-2018 (above) have been exhibited during solo shows at The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh and at Taigh Chearsabhagh Arts Centre in North Uist. They’ve also featured in a range of group events, including Royal Academy and Royal Scottish Academy Open exhibitions. During 2020, these works were presented as part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts & Waters.
"Discovering the opportunities we have within reach for combatting aspects of the climate crisis also lies at the core of Where Once the Waters (above). Here, the aim has been to invite people to reflect, on their own terms, upon the changes happening at places we may feel some connection to. I believe that we have a better chance of engaging with aspects of climate change if we can do this in a personal way. In this vein, in May 2022, I opened a small solo exhibition—principally discussing the topic of rising sea levels—at the 59th edition of the Venice Biennale. The exhibition comprised two installation artworks formed of many small parts. One group of Letters (typed antique papers addressed to people around the world) offered readers insights into our changing coastlines; while a group of miniature seascapes spoke of sustainability and the need to care for our resources. Over the course of its display, Where Once the Waters was well received by visitors and media, with regular exhibition tours and discussions." You can also take part
"So far over 600 Letters have been typed onto an assortment of found papers, addressed to people around the world, each offering a sea-level “reading.” These letters aren’t sent (at least not in their physical form), they’re added to a growing collection. A Letter to Rhea, 2022 (below) was enlarged and presented in billboard format in Brooklyn, New York, thanks to the I AM WATER campaign (ecoartspace/our humanity matters); a Letter to Mesi was digitally screened during COP27 in Egypt thanks to IkonoTV. This is a different way to present the information the letters contain, specifically addressed to locals. If we know what is happening locally, we stand a better chance of meeting that issue. Climate change shouldn’t feel “far off” and issues such as sea-level rise could impact us all, regardless of where we live. We need to be discussing this more."
“I started a series of seascapes (below) in the summer of 2022, after having spent the three previous years working almost exclusively on a small scale. Here, I’ve gradually applied expressive layers of oil in abstract shapes onto vintage industrial canvases and large format nautical maps pasted to board. Like the telling and re-telling of a story, I’ve traced and re-traced loops and curves, following familiar channels to build thick swells of paint. These paintings see my mark-making style inverted, with more emphasis placed on the negative space. Suggestive of sustainable practices, the titles of these paintings possess a meditative quality, much like the layering process of their creation.”
David Cass is an artist and occasional curator working between the UK and Europe. He has exhibited his multidisciplinary artwork in a range of venues and festivals including group showings at Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, MAXXI Museum in Rome, The Royal Academy (London) and Royal Scottish Academy (Edinburgh), and solo presentations at The Scottish Gallery, British Institute of Florence and Venice Biennale. Upon graduation from Edinburgh College of Art's School of Drawing & Painting, Cass received a Royal Scottish Academy scholarship to Italy. This event had great influence on his practice and his current projects still make reference to the country. He has participated in projects worldwide, and has artworks in numerous collections, both public and private. These activities have had an increasing focus on sustainability and the environment, with recent projects centered around on the issue of rising sea levels. Among other awards, Cass has received Winsor & Newton’s top award for his projects in watercolour and the Royal Scottish Academy’s Benno Schotz prize. He’s provided illustrations for books by Mark Haddon (2019) and Claudia Roden (2021) and worked collaboratively on the curatorial project A La Luz, which he co-founded with artist Gonzaga Gómez-Cortázar Romero. In 2024, he will present his tenth solo exhibition.
Featured images (top to bottom): ©David Cass, So Many Endings, 2011–2013, objects + offcuts, gouache, 66 x 76 x 14cm; Sounds or Slides, 2017–2018, 35mm slides, oil, 5 x 5cm; Where Once the Waters, Series I + II, Venice, 2022; Letter to Rhea, I AM WATER billboard, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, 39th Street & 4th Avenue, photography by Juan Cuartas Rueda; Recount, 2022–2023, mixed media on bus blind, 130 x 80cm; portrait of the artist.