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an exhibition by david


an exhibition by david





5 – 29 june 2013

16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ Tel 0131 558 1200 Email Web Cover: Years of Dust and Dry III (Ocean in blue) (detail), 2013, gouache on door (c.1750, France), 83 x 172 cms Left: The Pool, Swiss Alps (detail), 2013, gouache on destination signage and box lid, 40 x 34.5 cms 1

FOREWORD David Cass’ first solo show at The Scottish Gallery was in September 2011, Unearthed focused on Cass’ first year out from Edinburgh College of Art, and included works from travels to Tuscany, Brussels and Paris. Those familiar with the show will remember Cass’ distinctive use of dry gouache on wooden surfaces, the verso of printer’s trays, chest lids and desk drawers. The Scottish Gallery is delighted to host Years of Dust and Dry, an exhibition of new work which demonstrates a maturing artistic vision, and further establishes his reputation. This show sees an expansion and development of his ideas, a journey where Cass pushes the boundaries of painting on found objects and broadens his subject matter to encompass new areas, real and imagined. It is in the flea markets of Paris, Brussels and London and the antique shops of Edinburgh where Cass’ artistic voyage begins. Finding materials to paint on is a vital part of his artistic process. The hunt for the perfect surface, be it a coffee grinder drawer, a cigar box or tabletop, tunes his eye to nuances in grain and texture. It is the matière of these objects that spark the initial creative process, the grain of wood dictating the swell in his seascapes, which rhythmically spread like streamers across the side of a French farm house door. The steel handle on a chest lid is not hidden by the artist, but embraced as part of the overall composition. What an auctioneer would call ‘loveable scars’; scratches, dents and scrapes are important for Cass. The marks have accrued through decades of neglect or a lifetime of use; they now suggest a way forward so that in Cass’ studio a transformation can take place. Years of Dust and Dry  is David Cass’ largest exhibition to date and presents with an authoritative voice the different loci of his creative output: Paris, Piedmont, Liguria, Brussels and the Borders are captured with the assurance of an artist who understands the resonance of time and place.  His images are fleeting glimpses, snapshots of memory, moments of reflection which ask the viewer to pause, appealing to our interior, our own deep memories, if only for a moment. His seascapes and city scenes speak of loss and decay as well as beauty and the artist’s observations are a journey into his past as well as the history of the surfaces he paints on; images of eloquence which can resonate with our own sensual histories. His distinctive tonality, assured mark making and clarity of aesthetic vision identify him as one of the finest and most exciting artists to emerge from Scotland in recent years. Tommy Zyw, The Scottish Gallery


introduction Everything to do with this exhibition is about process, order and function. These artworks shift from being sparse, minimalist and monochromatic – with grain and tooth exposed – to being complete, full colour paintings. The processes involved in the creation of these artworks are equally as important as the final pieces themselves: the gathering of materials, the adjusting of objects, the application of layers of paint and eventually the curation of the exhibition itself. Brussels was the original starting point. The Jeu de Balle flea market’s vendors are mostly those contacted to pick up the leftovers after a house clearance (so, the leftovers of leftovers). We – the diggers, the rummagers – are there to adopt these splinters of unknown homes and place them within the walls of new lives, new homes. In this case, I’ve completely rerouted these items, toward an entirely new purpose. Since those first mornings spent at the flea market and in the city’s numerous antique and second hand shops, I’ve aimed to push the inclusion of ‘found’ objects within my practice to the furthest extent possible. During the creation of this exhibition – as well as returning to Brussels – I’ve visited dozens of antique quarters in cities and towns in France, Italy and closer to home. I’ve hunted down Brocantes and Vide Greniers all over France, and have returned to Paris’ plethora of vintage shops several times. I began this project painting upon simple planes: drawer bases, boards, table-tops. But I’ve gradually expanded the variety of items on which I paint, choosing increasingly more obscure items, and items of considerable age. I’m guiding these objects into a new life, one which is well deserved: each of the items on which I paint, has endured a life that speaks of function, of use, of wear. Take the pasted canvas scrolls that make Exposed: these (now faded and fragile) strips of hand stenciled directional signage – once prominent on a coach’s face – have revolved and covered great distance, hour after hour, day after day for years, for decades. Take the coffee grinders that make Five Lands, Five Lakes: basic and yet integral parts of a morning ritual, likewise the matchboxes, the compositor’s cases. But the overriding point of all this concerns time and memory. Small snippets, fragments of ordinary life and passing (past) time. Like a crudely spliced and projected Ciné film, my artworks are small flickers upon beaten planes. Planes of unknown (but definite) age. Cliff faces, coastal scenes: heavy, solid masses, that suffer frequent brutality, much more than the simple function of a door or table. Perhaps this exhibition is about stripping back, deconstructing the painting to its rawest, barest and emptiest state, whilst also alluding to the subject of ageing, time passing, erosion. David Cass 3

Scratched – From Beaubourg, 2013, gouache on army box base, 27 x 32.5 x 9.5 cms 4

Scattered – From Montmartre, 2013, gouache and watercolour on travelling chest lid, 45 x 85.5 cms 5

Pocket, 2013, framed set of sketches, pen on pocket notebook pages, 53 x 45 cms 6


Paris Study II, 2013, gouache on cheese box ‘Le Petit Normand’, 7 x 10 x 3 cms 8

Fragments – Ventimiglia Imperia, Old-town, 2012, watercolour and gouache on six (early) matchbooks, sold as a set, 4 x 5 x 1 cm (approx) 9

San Frediano, Lucca, 2012, gouache on postage box, 12.2 x 6.6 x 4.6 cms 10

Porta – Ventimiglia, 2012, gouache on box lid, 30.5 x 24 cms 11

Un Retour I: Dust – Porte de Pantin, 2013, gouache on box lid, 25 x 15 cms 12

Cap, 2013, watercolour on box base, 21 x 31.5 cms 13

Sauzet (Study), 2012, gouache on postage box lid, 9.5 x 9.5 cms 14

To The Land III, Summer – Lauder Moor, 2012, gouache on sharpening stone box, 9.5 x 25.7 cms 15

Holy Island, 2011, gouache on box lid, 30.5 x 42.5 cms 16


To The Land V, Autumn – Lauder Moor, 2012, gouache on chest lid, 52 x 126 cms 18

Two Seconds – Lauder Moor, 2012, gouache on two tool drawers, 20.5 x 36.5 cms 19

When I paint upon the rear of a postcard, I don’t generally reference that postcard’s engrained location. This act in itself, though not necessarily deliberate, evokes a welcome conceptual nuance. The piece becomes an artwork depicting two places simultaneously. When experiencing a new place we always bring with us memories, snippets and flashbacks of other places we’ve visited. Places where we’ve experienced a ‘sense of place’ perhaps, binding locations together. That a postcard can carry so much weight is fascinating. I’ve sourced postcards from the other side of the world online, depicting towns and villages in rural Liguria or the Swiss Alps. Perhaps the collector I’ve bought from has in turn bought from someone else, and perhaps that person was the original recipient. A postcard can rack-up thousands of miles in its lifetime, its fragile grain carries the literal, the obvious and the indiscernible memories and emotions of several people: the writer, the recipient, the collector, and the artist.

In Two Places (Riomaggiore), 2012, watercolour and gouache on postcard, 10 x 15 cms 20

First row, left to right: In Two Places I – IV Second row, left to right: In Two Places V – VIII Third row, left to right: In Two Places IX – XII Fourth row, left to right: In Two Places XIII – XVI Fifth row, left to right: In Two Places XVII – XX series of painted postcards, 2012, watercolour and gouache, 10 x 15 cms 21

Above, left: Veins – La Couletta, Valdeblore, 2012, gouache on treated coffee-grinder base, 18.9 x 15.3 cms Above, right: Handheld Horizon II, 2012, gouache on wood, 7.5 x 7.2 cms Opposite: Time Pulls, Time Pools – Totensee, Swiss Alps, 2012, gouache on army box lid, 32.5 x 27 cms 22


Weight, 2012, gouache on mounted photograph, 15 x 10 cms 24

Le Grand Galibier (Study) – Hautes Alpes, 2013, gouache on off-cut, 21 x 21 cms 25

Three Lakes – Les Cinq Lacs, Alpes Maritimes, 2012, gouache on box, 21 x 31.5 cms 26


Exposed – Cinque Terre, 2013, gouache on destination signage plus stretcher and frame, 106.5 x 86 cms Opposite, top left: 38/25, 2012, gouache on off-cut (box end), 5.5 x 5.5 cms Opposite, top right: Cotton Wool, 2013, oil and gouache on cardboard box, 12 x 20 x 6 cms Opposite, bottom left: Der Gehele Aarde II, 2011, gouache on postcard seascape and atlas, string, card, 25 x 38.5 cms Opposite, bottom right: 191 Years (detail), 2013, gouache on letter, 34 x 20 cms 28


Le Grand Galibier – Hautes Alpes, 2012-2013, gouache on army captain’s travel trunk, 112 x 76 cms 30


Above: Five Lands, Five Lakes XVII, 2012-2013, series of coffee grinder drawers, 13 x 12 x 4 cms (approx) Opposite page, left to right, from top: Five Lands, Five Lakes XXV, I, II, V, IV, XI, VII, VI, III, X 32



Three Seconds, 2013, gouache on three primitive drawers, 10 x 6.5 x 4.5 cms (approx) 35

Years of Dust and Dry III (Ocean in blue), 2013, gouache on door (c.1750, France), 83 x 172 cms 36


Four Seconds (Study), 2012, gouache upon four mounted photographs (rear), 10.5 x 6.2 cms each approx 38

Four Seconds, 2012, gouache on four drawers, 32 x 18 x 7 cms 39


Der Gehele Aarde I, 2011, gouache plus postcards, map, papers (on board), 122 x 122 cms 41

Years of Dust and Dry I (Ocean in turquoise), 2011-2012, gouache on farmhouse tabletop, 123 x 260 x 12 cms 42


So Many Endings I (Doublesided), 2011-2013, gouache on assorted objects and off-cuts / oil paint on rear, 65.5 x 75.5 x 12.5 cms 44

So Many Endings II, 2012-2013, gouache on assorted (predominantly wooden) objects and off-cuts, 39 x 36 x 10 cms 45

I’d wake early in Brussels, cross the stinging streets and lilac Halleporte park. I’d reach the damp flea market and look for left-overs, for matchboxes. Once held, carried by an unknown person. Carried. Like a memory. Stuffed, crumpled, discarded. I stack these memories, these fragments, these used vessels, one atop the other. These miniature torches, butterflies, sailors, sugar cubes, horses, flags, horizons, anchors, swans.

Gathered Seconds VII, 2012-2013, series of paintings in matchboxes 46

First row, left to right: Gathered Seconds I – IV Second row, left to right: Gathered Seconds V – VIII Third row, left to right: Gathered Seconds IX – XII Fourth row, left to right: Gathered Seconds XIII – XVI Fifth row, left to right: Gathered Seconds XVII – XX series of painted matchboxes, gouache, card, wood, 3.5 x 8 cms open (approx) 47

Right: 29 Years, 2013, gouache upon rear of framed (treated) reproduction painting (left) – Mlle. La Duchesse d’Orléans, 33 x 28 cms 48

Patches III, 2013, gouache on filing box, 36.5 x 33 x 12.5 cms 49

Years of Dust and Dry II (Ocean in grey-blue), 2012, gouache on chest lid, 59 x 166 cms 50


Top: Fading Light, Ventimiglia, 2012, gouache on box lid, 13.5 x 42.5 cms Middle: Miniature Coastal Scene II, 2012, watercolour on trinket box (with hinges), 4.7 x 7.6 cms Bottom: Blue, 2012, gouache and oil on tin, 5.5 x 9 cms 52

Walking the Cinque Terre III, 2012, gouache on compositor’s case, 44 x 49.5 cms 53


david cass and Born: 1988, Edinburgh Edinburgh College of Art: 2007–2010

Selected Exhibitions 2011 When The Moon Hits Your Eye, Group Exhibition of nine Royal Scottish Academy John Kinross Scholars, Shoreditch Town Hall, London Invited Artists, Edinburgh Arts Festival, St Andrew’s Square, Edinburgh Unearthed, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh Right Place, Time Left, Collaborative Exhibition, Saint Gilles, Brussels The Royal Society of Marine Artists (Annual Exhibition), Mall Galleries, London 2012 Annual Exhibition, Visual Arts Scotland, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh Contemporary Perspectives, The Mall Galleries, Threadneedle Space, London The Listener, Collective Exhibition (of John Kinross scholars), The Telfer Gallery, Glasgow Drawing From The Landscape, The Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition, The Lightbox, Surrey and The Mall Galleries, London 2013 Years of Dust and Dry, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh

Collections Royal Scottish Academy Private Collections throughout the UK and Europe

AWARDS The Royal Scottish Academy John Kinross Scholarship, 2010 Finalist in the Jolomo Bank of Scotland Awards, 2011 The Royal Society of Marine Artists’ Young Artist Award (First Place), 2011 The Royal Watercolour Society Award (First Place), 2012 South of Scotland Visual Artists Award, 2012 The Telfer Gallery Exhibition Award, 2012 Shortlisted (and selected for tour) The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition, 2012 55

Published by The Scottish Gallery to coincide with the exhibition David Cass: YEARS OF DUST AND DRY 5 – 29 June 2013 Exhibition can be viewed online at ISBN: 978-1-905146-77-2 Designed by Printed by J Thomson Colour Printers All rights reserved. No part of this catalogue may be reproduced in any form by print, photocopy or by any other means, without the permission of the copyright holders and of the publishers.

16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ Tel 0131 558 1200 Email Web Right: Le Grand Galibier (Study), Hautes Alpes (detail), 2013, gouache on off-cut, 21 x 21 cms





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