Born and raised in Houston (Texas), Jonathan Casella travelled around the United States over the past few years such as San Francisco, New York, Portland, Oregon and currently Los Angeles. While putting on display for first time at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, he also exhibited his work in San Francisco at the Luggage Store and New Langton Arts, and additionally in other places in New York such as Scott Charmin Gallery, Nationale and Open Gallery or Galerie COA. Actually, Jonathan Casella has also been important for the Open Gallery in Portland (which is closed now) and helped Brandon Shelly for its creation. Now we may see Jonathan Casella for the opening of the Truck Gallery in some different setting at the back of a twelve foot box truck as he told us, more to expect this year about this project.
To come back to his art path, we could say that Jonathan Casella plays with some «pathetic aesthetic » or punk through his perspective. Using the less he can, in an humble way, Jonathan Casella tries his luck into making a work of art, which means to him no huge art supplies to master. Thus, for the artist his art is more into the process. Painting with acrylic oil and as far as he can, Jonathan Casella paints in one sitting – in between twelve and fourteen hours – or in few days when paintings are bigger. If we look deeper into his work, we notice a true reflexion on painting about painting linked to the process. Also, in a Duchampian way, the title has its importance in Jonathan Casella work. As a viewer starts to look at the painting, the process could start with its title according to the artist.
However, while Joathan Casella paints about painting we can obviously notice inspirations such as Pop art masters (Warhol, Lichtenstein, Hockney) but we could say in a camp way (such as Susan Sontag «Notes on Camp », describes it) and also in some geometrical way. Latest inspirations for Jonathan Casella would be Cary Leibowits (Candyass) which could also be inspired by Marcel Duchamp theory. These are for the process, then from an aesthetical point of view, Jonathan Casella declares to be more influenced by Imi Knobel, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol Lewitt, Jean Dubuffet, and Stuart Davis or some other such as Karen Kilimnik, John Wesley, Jessica Stockholder, George Condo, Mary Heilmann, Rob Pruitt, Luc Tuymans. What one can notice is the humour found through Jonathan Casella paintings, mixing influences of painting masters with his own sense of humour and bright colors that reveal the work of the artist.
To me, at the deepest kumbaya level of defining things, art/making art is the thumbprint of any maker, and his reflection/ contribution on/to society. And that said, art can be anything-any deliberate personal expression or extended ritual. Of course you can develop that sentiment to be more inclusive or exclusive for whatever side of the argument you’re on, but at the barrel of the gun, that’s how I’d define “Art“.
Text of Fiona Vilmer writer specialized in contemporary art.
Photographs courtesy of the artist.