Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stem Cells

In his previous exhibition (8 Good Reasons to Save Polaroid), Kasabian Beck concentrated on the mysterious interior life of his subject. Stories were revealed ever so slightly in the crook of an elbow or sweep of the hip. In Stem Cells, a portrait series, Kas is still fixated on the details, but allows the subjects to dictate what they are. You’ll notice first how elongated the torsos of his sitters are; each subject looks as though s/he’s waking from a nap but forgot to stop stretching. In this series, Kas seems to have arm wrestled James Schwarz over wet canvas. He works organic, extravagant whirls across the surfaces; eyeballs bulge, shoulders poke up like tent poles through fabric. The Vargas-esque torsos of the women are mated with melting Dali clocks (thank you, Toon, for that observation ;) ), the men bisect the canvas with their angular edges....the soft smeary bends suggest impermanence, while the hard lines fight against it. The main element of a portrait is the expression recorded. Kas seems to be working with straightforward sl snaps – only one sitter emotes slightly through her lips. Most of the expression here is in the eyes, rolling skywards or squinting, and in the lines created by Kas himself. The National Portrait Gallery, London was organized in 1856 to commemorate individuals for their deeds. Come see how and think about why the slindividual is celebrated, elevated and commemorated. Become a Stem Cell yourself at the Poperation Gallery.