Jacob Kassay's maximised minimalism

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Jacob Kassay, installation view

In the image above, two partly curved canvases are positioned side by side, the negative space between them suggesting a perfect circle.

On the opposite wall, another shaped canvas performs a similar function, although in this case the evocation of form is also dependent on a short curve drawn directly onto the wall (below, top).

The size and position of the conjured circle provides an exact 'mirror image' of the first, while the pencilled intervention visually connects the work to an extensive wall drawing in the same space, as well as, in an adjoining room, a canvas marked with a graphite cross (below, bottom).

Jacob Kassay, installation view

Jacob Kassay, installation view

The installation extends Kassay's previous conversation with the history of minimalist or hard edged abstraction through allusion, here, to its adoption of the shaped stretcher and/or non-rectangular geometric form.

Of the many major names associated with such developments, several seem especially relevant to the works on display.

Robert Mangold, discussing the influences behind his early practice, has said:

"What struck me... (is that).... We never see anything in completeness. And the first 'wall' paintings, 1964-65, were involved in that idea of sections; each work is a totality, but it implies that much more could be there".

"I started doing the circle parts in '66, '67. A half-circle is a complete shape despite the implication that it's not a complete shape. A quarter-circle can be a complete form in and of itself and yet its name implies that it's a quarter of something more. This is very much a part of the content of the work... this sense of completeness and incompleteness or perhaps the impossibility of completeness."

Robert Mangold and Jacob Kassay

Besides utilising the blank gallery wall to infer form (left), Mangold also began to incorporate thick pencil lines into his paintings, visually separating geometric shapes into further divisions (below).

Kassay's own use of pencil markings riff on this precedent; and although Mangold rarely strayed beyond the confines of the canvas, his colleague Sol LeWitt, whose first wall drawing dates from 1968, provides yet another point of reference for Kassay's ICA intervention.

Jacob Kassay and Robert Mangold (Circle In and Out of a Polygon 2, 1973.)


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