Artist Profile: Carlos Grasso, Art Explorer
Written by Genie Davis
Exploding with color and richly dimensional, Carlos Grasso’s art is constantly changing, as he approaches new and different ways to create. Grasso says he is “committed to exploration. I always try to dive into unknown territory each time I start a new series.”
He believes his work is in a state of constant flux due to his desire to uncover and reveal uncharted artistic territory. His constant, in short, is change itself, as he explores “new ways of treating the materials, composition, color. More and more I tend towards complete abstraction, and utilize the canvas as sculptural matter,” he explains.
His recent series 9 Statements offers one look at Grasso’s work, utilizing vibrant colors in individual mixed media pieces that are individually positioned together to form a whole. They are mosaic and jigsaw puzzle, the squares of an art-quilt. They could also be viewed as individual conceptualizations of specific colors, revealing the depth of possibility in a single shade.
“The series started as simple 16” x 16” boards exploring a minimalist concept, inspired by the Japanese poetry of haikus and the spiritual riddles of the Buddhist Zen tradition in koans. The first ones were monochrome, especially white and black. After creating many of those, the idea occurred to me to group them in ‘mosaics’ of nine, so I could color-code the whole, and unite all of those separate ‘stories’ into one single visual unity.”
The colors Grasso has utilized so far are black, white, blue, and red. They are intense, even visionary, practically pulsating with color and texture. The palette he uses was “not necessarily an intentional choice, the colors simply work perfectly. In the future, I plan to make a green and a transparent series,” he says. The aesthetic and dimensionality of each piece, with elements that include found, formed, and natural objects, makes them individually unique; yet grouped together, the pieces create a cohesive pattern. Grasso says he has “re-baptized” the series with the title Mosaics.
Another recent series deals with the deconstruction of canvas. Again, Grasso uses vibrant colors and strongly textural elements to create an immersive whole. The pieces shimmer as if captured in a moment of movement or gestation.
“As I’ve said, I wanted to use the canvas more as sculptural material than just flat fabric with paint on it, also liberating it from its frame and from its 2D universe,” he relates. “One of my first pieces was a canvas which I tore with my own hands, just primed, without any color on it. I liked the design. After that, the process became more and more sophisticated, until I started slashing very fine lines into patterns.” Grasso says “Gravity makes the rest, straight cuts become swirls and ellipses.” The result is a jeweled series of shapes that appear to bring the viewer both into the canvas, and beyond it, as if through a kind of portal.
At the moment, this technique is his favorite form of exploration and expression. “The cutting of canvas is asking for my whole attention for the range of creative possibilities that it offers,” he says, noting “I define myself as a compulsive visual and textural explorer, I love all mediums and I feel very confident working with a variety of materials.”
Grasso is currently showing his latest work at a large solo exhibition at the Museum of Ventura County. In September, he’ll have another solo show at Gallery 825 in West Hollywood; the artist is also at work on plans for a large-scale art installation at Burning Man in 2020.