Ray Kass

For over thirty years, Ray Kass has found his muse in nature, the landscape, and his
garden. Layering washes of water media, oil emulsion, dry pigment, and smoke, he
depicts bold yet abstracted floral and arboreal imagery. Though abstract, these forms
capture the spiritual quality within nature, and often mimic organic shapes of
foliage. The ground of his paintings is created through smoking paper, a technique he
developed in the late 1980’s while working with the highly influential composer and
artist John Cage. In this method, Kass lays wet paper over a fire, allowing smoke to
overtake the surface as uncontrolled marks and traces remain. He then covers the
rag paper surface with shaved beeswax, acting like a seal and lending a soft aesthetic
to the paintings that reflects the natural elements within their composition. Kass
explains “I would like to achieve the dynamic mirror-like transparency and reflectivity
on the surface of my paintings that we experience when we look across water. The
light that emanates from a mirror reveals a changing, iridescent imagery; it is a
revelation of process replete with illuminating layers.”
Kass received a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship and an Individual Artist’s
Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work is in the collections of the
Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL; Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, VA;
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC; University of Massachusetts, Amherst,
MA; Boston Public Library, Boston, MA; Phizer Corporation, all, New York, NY; and
Medical College of Virginia, SunTrust, and Ethyl Corporation all, Richmond, Virginia.