11.27.2014

Jordan Casteel































































"In his iconic The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison writes, “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me.”

"Referencing Ellison’s novel, Brooklyn-based artist and recent Yale MFA graduate Jordan Casteel investigates the notion of invisibility and visibility in her monumental portraits of nude black men in repose in her exhibition Visible Man at Sargent’s Daughters. Often sitting in domestic interiors, surrounded by seemingly mundane everyday objects such as photographs, liquor bottles and an always necessary disco-ball, Casteel’s subjects gaze, like Manet’s Olympia, from the painting, directly at the viewers. Aside from Manet, Casteel’s stunning paintings recall numerous art historical references from the lounging form of Ingres’ Grande Odalisque to the surreally colored skin of Picasso’s blue period."

"Perhaps both fortunately and unfortunately, Casteel’s exhibition could not be more profound as the black male body as a contested site has become a national topic of discussion with the murder of Michael Brown and the ensuing protests and police action in Ferguson, Missouri. This is certainly not to say Visible Man would not be timely without these recent occurrences, considering I could run through a list of events such as the murder of Trayvon Martin that would also deeply resonate with these paintings.
While undeniably revealing her vast painterly skill, Casteel’s paintings provide a rich and complex basis to discussing the duel forces of visibility and invisibility inherent in being a person of color, as well as other non-normative identities"