STANFORD, CA—The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University is the West Coast venue for Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze, the celebrated young artist’s first solo museum show. Casteel, 30, widely recognized as one of the most important emerging artists working today, has rooted her painting practice in community engagement. Based in Harlem, New York, Casteel’s nearly life-size portraits and cropped compositions chronicle personal observations of the human experience. The exhibition, on view at the Cantor from September 29, 2019, to January 5, 2020, features 29 paintings made in the last five years.
“Her monumental, exquisitely tender paintings remind us that everyday existence can also be extraordinary,” said Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander, assistant curator of American art.
Casteel’s artistic process often begins by walking the streets of Harlem and engaging with members of her community. During the course of these interactions, the artist takes photographs of those she encounters. These photographs become the source material she transforms into electrically-colored, intimate paintings that demand the viewers’ attention.
“Jordan Casteel’s insightful paintings invite us to connect with her subjects, their stories, and their surroundings,” said Susan Dackerman, John and Jill Freidenrich Director at the Cantor. “Having her work here at the Cantor will encourage conversations about the world around us and the people who occupy it—and the nature of painting itself.”
The exhibition reveals Casteel’s evolving practice. Her early series, Visible Man (2013-2014) and Brothers (2015), portray men who are family members or close friends and include details, such as furnishings, personal belongings and place, that deepen the viewers’ understanding of the subjects.
“The intent of the paintings from my early works is to expose my vision of black men as a sister, daughter, friend, and lover,” said Casteel. “That perspective is one full of empathy and love. I see the humanity and, in turn, I want audiences to engage with them as fathers, sons, brothers, cousins—as individuals with their own unique stories to share.”
Casteel’s 2017 series, Nights in Harlem, is an investigation of light and color that depicts members of the Harlem community at night. Other subjects represented in the show include cityscapes, subway scenes, women, and local business owners.
The artist earned her MFA in painting and printing from the Yale School of Art in 2014, and was an artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem from 2015-2016. Returning the Gaze originated at the Denver Art Museum. Casteel’s work has been shown at Casey Kaplan in New York, the Harvey B. Gantt Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has been included in contemporary art exhibitions worldwide including MOCA, Los Angeles and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR. She was recently named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list of influential people in the arts.
This exhibition was organized by Rebecca Hart, the Vicki and Kent Logan Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Denver Art Museum.
Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze is organized by the Denver Art Museum. Generous support for the Cantor Art Center’s presentation is provided by Maryellie Johnson and Rupert Johnson, Jr., and Pamela and David Hornik.
Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University
Founded when the university opened in 1891, the museum was expanded and renamed in 1999 for lead donors Iris and B. Gerald Cantor. The Cantor’s collection spans 5,000 years and includes more than 38,000 works of art. With 24 galleries, more than 15 special exhibitions each year, and free admission, the Cantor is one of the most visited university art museums in the country, attracting visitors from the area and around the world.
The Cantor Arts Center is open six days a week, and admission is free. Hours: Wednesday–Monday, 11 AM–5 PM, and Thursday until 8 PM. The museum is closed on Tuesday. The Cantor is located on the Stanford campus, off Palm Drive at Museum Way. Parking is free after 4 PM weekdays and all day on weekends and major holidays. For more information, call 650-723-4177 or visit museum.stanford.edu. Instagram: @cantorarts Twitter: @CantorArts Facebook: /CantorArtsCenter