Location: United States
"As artists, one of our roles is to be the eyes and voice of the underlying processes that govern the individual (the artist him/herself), the collective (society at large) and nature as a whole. A single piece of artwork is a blueprint of a larger web of interconnections.
Most of my work is an exploration and gravitates around this relationship between the outer, concrete, material world of form (representation/found objects) and the inner, subjective, psychological reality of the underlying forces (abstraction)."
Born in Buenos Aires (Argentina).
Lives and works in Ojai, California.
Studied Music, Graphic Arts and Painting in Buenos Aires, Paris and Los Angeles. Began as a professional musician (flute) in Paris in the late '70s and '80s, eventually switching to drawing and painting. His apprenticeship started with still-life and portraiture in the classical Old Master's style under the guidance of master painter David A. Leffel. Later on, his artwork evolved towards pure abstraction.
Visiting his studio one experiences the broad range of Grasso's work: abstract, representational, minimalist, expressionist, monochromatic, colorful... defining him as a visually insatiable experimental artist.
Grasso's work has been shown and represented by galleries in Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Dallas, Carmel, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Napa Valley, Scottsdale, Ventura and Ojai.
He is a member of the Los Angeles Art Association (LAAA) and the Ojai Studio Artists (OSA).
Carlos Grasso: Art and Epiphany
An Essay by Shana Nys Dambrot on CG most recent work
Appeared 01/21/2015 in Hufftington Post Arts & Culture Blog:
Carlos Grasso was one kind of painter for a long time, and then he became another. He once pursued a staunch Old Master style under the tutelage of David A. Leffel, a modern master of classical technique, making painstaking portraits and still lifes in the uber-classical tradition of Rembrandt and Vermeer. Then five or six years ago, Grasso had an epiphany. “The neurons just started firing differently one day, and I had a new style.” Which at first was actually every style he could think of in rapid succession, but eventually he settled into the
rich abstract expressionism and juxtapositional collage works of today -- seas of form and color, positing resolutions to the tension between abstract and figurative visions, which he also sees as a tension between the external and internal worlds of experience and inquiry. “I never “got” the whole modern art thing,” says Grasso, “and then suddenly the language revealed itself, and I felt compelled to explore this new world -- it corresponded to a new world that I had been feeling inside.”
He has been pursuing this exploration through two overarching, interrelated series, “Inner Structures” and “Red, White, Black” which although different in several important ways, do borrow from each other. The “Inner Structures” paintings, for example, almost always follow a sort of compositional template in which a single, tightly rendered object/images borrowed from his classical phase -- a rose, a
pomegranate, a human heart -- rest atop, or rather hover above variations on abstract, atmospheric color fields, like weather systems built of mark-marking, or boxes of rain. Although there are divergent styles and techniques in play, Grasso choreographs a deft interplay between them, so that certain shapes, gestures, motifs, and colors appear in a fractal rhyme scheme of recombinant configurations across the whole. The “Red, White, Black” works use a similar syntax, but as a series, Grasso is looking there at graphic strength,
strong emotion, and what happens when the balance between gesture and render tilts decisively toward pure feeling.
One of the more affecting of Grasso’s motifs has to do with language. He frequently includes either calligraphic writing a la Twombly, or else collaged letterform stencils as elements of the composition -- but he is adamant that this is without meaning or message, saying, “It references speech but has no content.” It’s more the concept of language as a bridge between worlds. “Language is built of abstract sounds and forms, it’s imprecise -- but it’s what we have. Art is a language, too,” and Grasso feels that art can be that kind of bridge -- between people, or between the concrete and invisible worlds. Another way he engages with the object/consciousness divide is the use of collage and assemblage. By incorporating found objects and autobiographical artifacts like old photographs or rusted tools, Grasso is both evoking and evading narrative. Deracinated from function or context, familiar objects and his own identity are equally drafted into the abstract universe he is mapping.
Perhaps the most art historically articulated evidence of Grasso’s break/breakthrough are the white paintings, which are some of the most heavily assemblage- and collage-based compositions. The involvement of objects takes care of the representational element he likes to incorporate, without breaking the vow of the palette. He calls all of these self-portraits. Despite -- or perhaps because of, Grasso’s radical stylistic shift, he finds a kindred spirit in 20th century avant-garde painter Kazimir Malevich, of 1918’s “White on White” fame, who produced many similarly reductive works under the moniker of Suprematism. Not for nothing, these were almost entirely executed in red, white, and black. Malevich’s whole thing about non-objective art had to do with creating just enough of a painting to make people stand still for a moment, but free enough of content or message so their subsequent train of thought was unfettered. Also not for nothing, but he got that idea from the Russian Orthodox icon paintings in his home -- whose dogma he rejected but whose
hypnotic powers he respected, and which powers he felt resided in the palette, especially the red. He reduced them to non-objective essentials to prompt a more abstract, secular version of a spiritual experience. And finally, like Grasso he too went through the same rapid index of styles after his epiphany, cycling through all the avant-garde modes -- Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, etc. -- before
finding his true voice. Like Grasso, when Malevich finally began speaking in that true voice, he said things like, “Everything which determined the objective ideal structure of life and of art -- ideas, concepts, and images -- all this the artist has cast aside in order to heed pure feeling. Suprematism did not bring into being a new world of feeling, but, rather, an altogether new and direct form of representing the world of feeling.” Yes, that’s it exactly.
--Shana Nys Dambrot
Los Angeles, 2015
VIDEO on Carlos Grasso recent series:
Acrylic and oil on panel - 48" x 36" - 2013
Acrylic and Oil on panel - 48" x 36" - 2013
Mixed media on panel -48" x 36"
Arylic on panel - 48" x 36"