In the main gallery space, Brendan Cass exhibits four large-scale canvases that oscillate between the meditative, the romantic and the fantastic in equal measure. The heroic paintings of European landscapes, which emerge from source images generally 2×3 inches in scale are inflated, piled upon, distorted and ultimately transformed into nearly life size renditions of the objects they describe. The paintings can be interpreted as metaphors for lands explored only in paint – known only in travel brochures and the imagination.
Cass’ application of material conveys a tremendous sense of joy, and also an allegiance to chance and accident as a way to provide points for starting and stopping throughout the composition. Heavy build-up of acrylic paint leaves a sculptural impasto on the picture plane inviting the shadow it casts to become a condition of the painting’s effect. The very physical process by which Cass works becomes an almost performative act; spills, smears and violent expulsions are all carefully choreographed to depict cliché European settings in a style that can be described as pop expressionism teetering on psychedelia.
“You might deduce…that Cass is a Pop landscapist in the manner of Roy Lichtenstein. A look at the actual work will persuade you otherwise. These big canvases are energetically made with different kinds of brushwork, and indeed paint, and they pulse with a sense of real place. Whether that place is in Norway, say, or the artist’s own head, or both, is, of course, quite another thing.” – Anthony Haden-Guest.