Sims Reed Gallery | Aaron Kasmin Up in Smoke Catalogue | May 2017

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Aaron Kasmin: Up in Smoke


Aaron Kasmin: Up In Smoke Introduction We are thrilled to present Up in Smoke by British contemporary artist Aaron Kasmin, following the huge success of our 2016 exhibition Lucky Strike. This exhibition showcases twenty-eight new pencil drawings, which celebrate and pay homage to the glitz and glamour of the postprohibition era, inspired by American feature matchbooks. Larger in scale and more simplified than his drawings in Lucky Strike, Kasmin focuses on details of single matchbooks from the late 1920s to the early 1960s, staying true to their graphics and depicting a more expansive range of themes. Ranging from fashion and yachting to restaurants and nightclubs, Kasmin offers a nostalgic glimpse into a bygone era, when the promotion of alcohol was far more lenient. In conjunction with the drawings, a selection of the artist’s own vintage matchbook collection is also on display. Kasmin began collecting Lion Match Company’s matchbooks several years ago, inspired by the lively and inventive images that reflect the rise of America’s consumer culture, originally mass-produced for advertising purposes. The humble matchbook soon became the most effective advertising medium in America, which was embraced by almost every


industry. From beverage companies to restaurants and fashion, matchbook advertising became quasi billboards for establishments, tapping into consumer culture. Kasmin subsequently decided to turn them into an art form in their own right, giving the little-known ephemera the attention they deserved, whilst paying homage to the original artists who remain unknown. Using carbothello pencils Kasmin methodically works from left to right, building up detailed A4 and A5 sized renderings, predominantly using primary colours. The resulting images have a stencil-like quality that incorporate the matches into the images: conjuring up the golden age of Hollywood with their bursts of bold colour and stylish designs. Up in Smoke celebrates a slice of Americana, transporting viewers into the worlds created by famed authors, poets and singers of the time. “These new works reflect a joint celebration of the joy of collecting and creating works inspired by the sheer inventiveness and genius of feature matchbooks. The matchbooks are small, ephemeral and almost forgotten; the ingenuity of the imagery in what must be the golden age of graphic design is here in minute form. To me they conjure up the glamour of early to mid-twentieth century American life. The glitz inherent in nightclubs and bars hark back to the post-prohibition era with movie stars and opulent parties evoked and captured in the novels of Scott Fitzgerald and Raymond Chandler, and re-created in the nostalgic films of Woody Allen.� – Aaron Kasmin


Bottoms Up, Coloured pencil, 2016 30 x 21 cm


“Alcohol is like love. The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off ”. (Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye)

Curly’s Bar & Cabaret, Coloured pencil, 2016 30 x 21 cm


Sea Shell Restaurant, Coloured pencil, 2016 30 x 21 cm


“Pleasure was the color of the time�. (Harold Clurman)

The Shaker Bar, Coloured pencil, 2016 30 x 21 cm


Simpson Clothes, Co 21 x 3


oloured pencil, 2016 0 cm


Ireland’s Oyster House, Coloured pencil, 2016 30 x 21 cm


Wearley’s, Coloured pencil, 2016 30 x 21 cm


Bonat’s Restaurant, Coloured pencil, 2016 30 x 21 cm


“It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de-lovely”. (Cole Porter, Anything Goes)

Getreu’s, Coloured pencil, 2016 15 x 21 cm


Jacques, Coloured pencil, 2016 30 x 21 cm


“It was just one of those nights Just one of those fabulous flights A trip to the moon on gossamer wings Just one of those things”. (Cole Porter, Just One of Those Things)

‘Cheers’, Coloured pencil, 2016 21 x 15 cm


Tam O Shanter, Coloured pencil, 2016 30 x 21 cm


The Morgue, Coloured pencil, 2016 30 x 21 cm


Food That Will Bring You Back, Coloured pencil, 2017 21 x 15 cm

Betz Beer, Coloured pencil, 2017 21 x 15 cm


The Chef, Coloured pencil, 2016 21 x 15 cm

Kim’s Chow Mein, Coloured pencil, 2016 21 x 15 cm


Small selection of Kasmin’s la


arge collection of matchbooks


Lincoln Arcade, Coloured pencil, 2017 30 x 21 cm


Pumps, Coloured pencil, 2016 30 x 21 cm


Jaunty Jacks, Coloured pencil, 2016 21 x 15 cm


Vogue, Coloured pencil, 2017 30 x 21 cm


Grand Central Palace, C 21 x 3


Coloured pencil, 2016 30 cm


“Cold Cape Cod clams, ‘gainst their wish, do it Even lazy jellyfish do it Let’s do it, let’s fall in love”. (Cole Porter, Let’s Do It)

Mayflower Hotel, Coloured pencil, 2016 30 x 21 cm


Bathers, Coloured pencil, 2016 30 x 21 cm


“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”. (F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby)

New York City Yacht Club, Coloured pencil, 2016 30 x 21 cm


Special Delivery, Coloured pencil, 2017 21 x 15 cm


17th May – 09th June 2017 Sims Reed Gallery 43a Duke Street St. James’s London, SW1Y 6DD

t + 44 (0)20 7930 5111 f + 44 (0)207 925 0825 gallery@simsreed.com www.gallery.simsreed.com


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