May 17 - July 13, 2014
Kassian is confronting the hazy truthfulness of representation in general in several series of drawings and objects that have evolved over the years. Olena's work highlights her exploration of drawing as a form that can transcend the two-dimensional surface.
Her portrait drawings are created by applying powdered graphite to sheets of Mylar, creating a stunning range of light and shadow. Her figures are draped in diaphanous robes and engaged in gestural movements that accent the relationship between the body and the cloth. A shimmering, see-though effect often results and the drawings somehow resemble x-rays: both by revealing more than we expect to see, and less at the same time. Underlying structures and gravity defying poses become more evident and important, while faces and personal attributes blur away into nothingness.
This shimmering, dimensional depth is carried over into Kassian’s more abstract work, sometimes by employing stainless steel mesh fabric formed into voluptuous shapes to create even more complex interactions with light.
This exhibit traces Olena Kassian’s evolution and her development in expressing a complex view of human relations. In talking about the graphite drawings, she focuses on “the transparency of our human edges,” as though the boundaries that separate and individualize us are illusory and bound to fade away. Several of her subjects seem to be undressing. These fragile and suggestive moments break down barriers – between the subject and the rest of the world, but also between the artist and the viewer.
In collaborations she has done more recently with another artist, Ann Bartok, Kassian uses metal even more solidly. These later images become less ghostly and wire is used as the most authoritative line drawing element in the whole exhibit. It is almost as though here, in collaboration, where the boundaries of individuality are blurriest, the artist can make the boldest, most definitive statement.
Olena Kassian studied Drawing and Painting at the Ontario College of Art, as well as Fine Art and Philosophy at the University of Guelph. Her work has appeared on billboards, product labels and magazine advertisements. Additionally, she has illustrated 17 children’s books and written four before her fine art practice became a primary focus in her life.