Casey Kaplan

Artist News

The Art Newspaper: Private View: Jordan Casteel, Leon Polk Smith And Jack Whitten

The 28-year-old Casteel has her debut at Kaplan following a packed dance card of group shows over the past two years, from the Studio Museum in Harlem to MassMOCA. The 2014 Yale MFA grad (raised on a diet of Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence by her grandmother, a collector) makes empathic, large-scale portraits of black men and recently began painting from portraits she takes of men she observes on the street in Harlem at night. In one, Casteel locks eyes with Harold, seated just beyond the fluoro glow of a Laundromat; in another, a man identified as Tito interrupts his own story to describe it with a gesture. Casteel allows the visual cacophony of settings to envelop but never swallow her subjects. The artist inserts herself invisibly into the frame, bearing witness through achingly specific details—a trait shared by another painter of Harlem denizens, Alice Neel.