Jordan Kasey‘s solo show at Whole Gallery will most likely fascinate you, freak you out, and make you want to learn more about the ocean. The immediate association of many of the works in the show is with Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo who is known for allegorical portraits where every part of a body is built up of plants, fruits and vegetables. Kasey’s large-scale canvases are far more surreal. She uses sea plants and corals to obscure the features of the face rather than define them. In two pieces in particular, smooth, monochromatic faces that take up the majority of the composition look as if they’ve been hollowed out (or carved) to serve as terrariums for an effusion of real and imagined plants and other organic forms. Kasey took inspiration from science and photography books of the ocean for the works in this series, although a shift can be observed from forms that quote directly from nature to the artist’s unique amalgams.
The most recent painting in the show is Whale’s rib cage with rocks, which sprawls out on its own wall. When a whale dies and sinks to the bottom of the sea floor, a chain reaction of symbiotic behaviors is initiated. Hagfish, crabs, sharks, worms, and various bacteria feed on the body of the whale in successive stages that can last upwards of 75 years (about as long as the life of a whale). A “whale fall” becomes its own ecosystem, and at least 55 species have been discovered to live exclusively in the whale fall habitat, drifting long distances until they find a new host. Although certain of Kasey’s works call to mind a parallel, fantasy world, many point back to the strangeness of the one we inhabit.
Jordan Kasey’s show will be on view until November 28th. Whole Gallery is located at 405 West Franklin on the 3rd floor of the H&H building. You can also see a mural by Kasey down the street on the corner of Franklin and Howard. To make an appointment, please contact the artist: email@example.com (her website is also linked above). Thank you so much to Jordan for taking the time to speak with us.