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Ray Kass at Reynolds Gallery

Sea and Firmament


During the last 10 years Ray Kass has been assembling small abstract paintings from an interdependent series into large-scale works he has labeled "Polyptychs." The Polyptychs are essentially landscapes: scenes drawn from the contemplation of nature. In addition to describing vast views and distant horizons, they are often, in spite of their size, intimate composite reflections on the very nearby. Kass' new work, now on exhibit at Reynolds Gallery, observes a broader realm. They're still polyptychal in format; Kass is now employing a more complex joining of his panels and submitting his paintings to interesting chance results by smoking their surfaces. Through his titles he designates these watercolor paintings as a personal process of journeying and mapping, assigning several the name "Periplus," an archaic word meaning circumnavigation. Thus do the pure, infinite, alchemical manners of sea and firmament become apparent in Kass' landscape, and with them a truly revelatory view of surface. Kass chooses a faint ephemeral palette for these new polyptychs. It is unemotional, dispassionate and spiritual on one hand, but as a conveyed atmosphere, it has a midday quality, shadowless and vitally lit to a white temperature where it begins to issue its own haze. Kass has journeyed from his mountain home and is seaside for most of these recent works. It is a chaste, unapologetic place he charts, which makes quick work of the organic in exchange for its own restorative brand of meditation. Kass maps it acutely.

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