Painterly Enigmas - Christo Kasabo
Christo Kasabo’s painting is abstraction as a kind of personal narration – feelings
and a sense of the moment are there - and it’s all about the painterly surface of things. For the surface effect expresses all the depth of life’s experience. Kasabo plays with old-fashioned picture planes, figure-ground and hard edge effects that originated before abstraction went viral in a multi-channel universe of painterly potentialities. Abstraction now extends cross-culturally and presents a fascinating array of expressive forms from diverse influences. The metaphorical potentialities of painting are now vast. Painterly and expressive, Kasabo’s world, is as enigmatic as time’s own arrow. Kasabo understands formal aesthetics is a rich landscape the artist can draw upon without falling prey to the didactic or hyperbolic conformity of one stylistic language or another.
Pyramid (2007). Amid a sea of geometries, colors, and signifiers that include an infinity symbol, the number3, dots, dots and dashes, dashes, all these traversing the surface Kasabo is telling a story, a very visual and abstract one at that, and it verges on surrealism, for here the history of modernism becomes a vehicle for an artist’s expression in another time. Sacrifice (2008) with its X mark, body-like imprinting in white acrylic, has surface markings that, surface effect becomes extreme theatre, a visual walks amid an array of stylistic origins. Here painting lives on the edge.
Well versed in the painterly vernacular Christo Kasabo draws on what he knows and takes it all a step further, in some new world of the visual. Deconstructed and reconstructed exist at the same instant in time.
Forms, shapes, markings, space, depth, patterns, all co-exist in Kasabo’s universe. This is a universe where the signs and symbols follow their own locus and modality. We are amazed. Kasabo’s paintings are about the journey, not the destination. With a sense of play, and love of life, Kasabo knows history, has lived it, and he demonstrates painting is about instinct, and a primal sense of gesture, and reconciliation exists in the final composition. When to step out, letting the process speak for itself is the ultimate decision a painter must make. Egg (2005) is like concrete poetry, and manifests expression through the relational tension between surface elements. Kasabo does it in the same way concrete poets conceive word, letter and symbol placement on a piece of paper. Space and form exist in a tensile balance, and Kasabo walks that tightrope well. We see an egg form then random calculations… Do they signify the central iconic presence of the egg form (or recall Constantin Brancusi’s famous egg sculpture)? As in all Kasabo’s paintings element exists in an existential relation to the others. Time and space exist in this painterly and relativistic world.
Kasabo presents us with a series of optic riddles, spatial anachronisms, and visual paradoxes. Figuration and abstraction are present, as are objective elements and fragments of physicality, of the body, and visual memories. These paintings are parables on the nature of contemporary life brought into being with great knowledge of what painting can do. There is calm at the center of these new works. Bound together by light, color, shape, pattern, Kasabo’s painterly paintings could only have been created in our times. These are paintings that express how relativist today’s multi-media, multi-sensory, multi-cultural culture really is. The ultimate challenges we see expressed in Kasabo’s paintings are visual, not informational. It is this visual and vernacular immediacy, all executed with great confidence, that liberates Kasabo’s paintings, makes us feel their liveliness. With great sensitivity, Kasabo plays with space in these paintings, taking the paintbrush for a walk, amid a forest of symbols and signifiers. Kasabo’s art stands the test of time, and is an affirmation of the powerful forces of life!
John K. Grande
John K. Grande
Author, poet and curator