Ben Thompson


Discovered Artist: David Kassan

Art and music have always had close ties. One reason could be because their creators are both considered artists in their own right (after all we refer to the former as a “Visual Artist” just as the latter are given the title “Musical Artist”), another might be because of the strong likelihood of finding your favorite visual artists at work surrounded by the melodies, beats and rhythms of their more musically inclined counterparts.

While both of the above are possible explanations, a more personal one is that we as artists (both musical and visual) often react to the discovery of another artists work in much the same way: with an unbridled joy and elation reserved for that first glimpse of something new and unique that possesses a quality, excitement and a power that we wish and strive for in our own work.

Such was my reaction to the work of David Jon Kassan, a classically trained figural painter hailing from Brooklyn, New York. At least that was how it felt the second time I saw David’s Work…Let me explain.

I became at least passingly aware of David’s work early last year, found by chance while looking through some online gallery catalogues likely in a heated search for reference pertaining to one of my own paintings. In all likelihood the piece in question featured a fantastical creature or was in need of some beautiful twisted tree, neither of which was to be found in David’s online gallery, so after a brief pause I moved on. Yesterday however friend and fellow painter Terese Nielsen posted an image of “Solemn” (below) on her Facebook page and the difference in my reaction couldn’t have been more pronounced.


Where before my distraction allowed for only a cursory examination, I was now captivated by the flawless technique and masterful execution displayed by a craftsman having achieved a perfect balance between the abstract nature of his background and the breathtaking human quality of his subject. I was as caught up in the visceral texture of the typography painstakingly strewn across the wall in a geometric cobweb as I was the thinly combed wisps of snowy white hair across the deeply lined face of the man standing in front of it. It is the face of a man with stories to tell, bearing a haunted look that hints at his inability to know just where to begin in the telling.

And the palette…oh my. The subdued quality of the palette lulls the viewer into a calm observance of this otherwise dramatic figure. The mode of dress for his subject is decidedly neutral, the colors of the piece being reserved for skin tones that are to die for.

It was as though I had just heard the newest track from a music artist already four albums into their career. I had to seek out other examples of this talent, all the while hoping that this singular piece was not a fluke in an otherwise unremarkable body of work.

I need not have worried…


Painting after painting bowled me over in its consistent, patient attention to detail. It also became clear that these pieces are made even more striking by the fact that they are painted/drawn at life size, making the original pieces that much more daunting and powerful to view in person. At least I imagine this to be the case, as I still look forward to and am hopeful for the opportunity to study these beauties up close myself. In the meantime I will continue to scour the internet in an attempt to “catch up” on what I have been missing out on!

David is a supremely capable and worthy talent, one who’s works I intend to keep a close watch for. There is much to learn from this rising artist and I look forward to being taught with each and every piece to come.

Now go put on some good music of your own and take a look at the work below.

David Kassan’s Website
David Kassan’s Blog
David Kassan’s Tumblr

all images: David Jon Kassan






















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