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The Great Daedala at Contrasts Gallery
"The Great Daedala I". Simon Casson. 75" x 94". Oil on canvas. 2007.

BEIJING.- Simon Casson’s provocative paintings will be on view at Contrasts Gallery in Beijing from November 25, 2007 – January 7, 2008. The exhibition, titled “The Great Daedala”, will feature ten of the artist’s large-scale works from the past year. An opening reception will be held on November 25th, 2007 from 3 PM – 6 PM. Contrasts Gallery is located at 798 Art District, No. 4 Jiu Xianqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China 100015.

Simon Casson’s paintings reimagine the Western tradition of figurative painting in a strikingly contemporary context. He melds images from Old Master paintings and life studies with passages of abstract color and gesture. The representational image itself is ruptured by dislocated figures and superimposed images that unpredictably break the painting’s narrative continuity. The effect of these displacements and painterly interruptions is a gorgeous delirium of classical gravitas subverted by a modern sense of fragmentation.

“The Great Daedala”, the exhibition’s title, refers to the festival held every 59 years in Boeotia, a region of ancient Greece. The festival celebrated the reconciliation of the gods Zeus and his wife Hera, after she had left him because of his frequent infidelities. They were reconciled after Zeus, pretending that he had found a new bride, lured Hera into ripping off her rival’s bridal veil only to discover that she was just a wooden statue. The festival was celebrated by a procession of fourteen wooden figures that were later burned in a sacrificial fire.

Casson’s paintings honor the mythic origins of the festival by their depictions of robed and nude figures in a landscape setting, with recurring painted skies, both blue and stormy. His deft painting in historical styles is subject to intrusion by blurring, streaks of pigment, and collage-like scraps of figures or clothing. A sense of chaos and violation, the dark side of the Olympian spirit is given full expression. The viewer experiences a kind of collapse of time, with ancient and modern, the figurative and the non-objective all coexisting together. These new paintings represent a shift in Casson’s work, as he fragments and layers his images more than ever before, and with a greater range of color. There no longer is a central subject, but rather a series of important scenarios, on multiple planes, vying for viewers’ attention.

Andrew Lambirth, art critic for The Spectator, in 2005 wrote about Casson’s work: “In this remarkable work, the ‘slow’ deeply-pondered approach that we associate with the art of the past comes into fruitful collision with the contemporary ethos of instant gratification and visual overkill.”

Simon Casson was born in York, England in 1965. He was educated at the Exeter College of Art and Design, with post-graduate degrees from Central St. Martins and The Royal Academy of Art in London. He has exhibited his work extensively in solo exhibitions at venues including Scott Richards Contemporary Art, San Francisco, Bentley Gallery, Scottsdale, U.S.A., Lisa Kurts Gallery, Memphis, U.S.A., Galerie de Bellefeuille, Montreal, and Long & Ryle Gallery, London.

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