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, Kass forms bold yet abstracted floral and arboreal imagery. The rag paper surface, covered with shaved beeswax, lends to a soft aesthetic that reflects the natural elements found within the paintings’ composition. The ground of his paintings is created in one of two manners: smoking or staining. Kass developed the technique for smoking paper 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. Though abstract, these forms capture the spiritual quality within nature, and often mimic organic shapes of foliage. Kass received a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship and an Individual Artist’s Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Kass’s 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.
Notation-01-22-2018, 2018, watercolor, oil emulsion and pigment on smoke rag paper with beeswax, 31.75 x 37 inches