Juan Francisco Casas is a Spanish artist and poet. The majority of his works are photo-realistic drawings, done with ballpoint pens, in large formats (up to 10 feet). His drawings begin as photographs and they have the immediacy of the moment and the candidness of that medium. The drawings add another layer by stripping the photographs of their mechanical process, by revealing only the details that feel pertinent to the event.
Casas’ subjects are usually women in intimate situations. Not always sexual, though they often are, but nearly always candid and unreserved. There is the sense that Casas is looking at his work from the outside, fully aware of the connection to fashion and pornography but, somehow, sidestepping the baggage associated with those fields. You get the sense the women are participating in, rather than subjects of, the work. This is often literally the case as many of the drawings feature women taking self-portraits. Even those who remain firmly in front of the lens, though, seem to be in on the idea.
His working in large formats seems a way of avoiding the association with shame and regret that explicit images might produce in their creators (or in their subjects). Small intimate works seem tentative by comparison. The world of art has a long history of artists who created sexually explicit work and then felt remorse near the end of their lives. Aubrey Beardsley, for example, begged his publisher to “destroy all copies of Lysistrata and bad drawings… by all that is holy all obscene drawings.” His publisher, fortunately, ignored Beardsley’s wishes. Casas’ work, on the other hand, asserts itself nearly to the point of disengaging from the artist, as if the drawings are owned only by themselves and Casas would have no say in their fate.
His skill as a draftsman and painter is stunning, recalling Gerhard Richter and Chuck Close. The portraits themselves, though, feel more at home in the Instagram generation. The sense of the curated life, the golden moment, the never-ending party, the perfect orgasm. Though we’re all aware of the artifice it still tugs at us all and draws us into his world.
Juan Francisco Casas is also a talented poet, he has published numerous books including Thesummerhaikus and A and Other Poems.
See more at Juan Francisco Casas’ official website.
All artwork © Juan Francisco Casas.