In the multi-media works of artist David Cass, memories and tokens of bygone eras are assembled into compositions that evoke both nostalgia for the past and serve as a reminder of fluctuations in nature due to a changing climate. Cass collects a variety of items like matchboxes, tins, and old letters from flea markets, especially small containers that are associated with safekeeping. In some pieces, he accumulates small boxes into larger vessels like cabinet drawers, while in others, the item itself serves as the canvas for original paintings that respond to each individual surface.
An ongoing theme in Cass’ practice is the way attitudes toward nature have shifted in recent generations, describing in a profile about his creative process that “ours is the first epoch in which the natural world has been seen as a problem, as itself in danger.” A recent installation called Where Once the Waters, comprising dozens of small painted tins and exhibited during the Venice Biennale, focused on a shifting horizon line. A motif of flowing lines signifying the movement of water appears in the works, responding to the texture, scale, and patina of each unique object. Water plays a central role in the connections he draws between past and present, highlighting the changeable nature of the sea, how oceans are rising around the world.
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