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Aaron Kasmin

Aaron Kasmin
Always a Show

16th September - 28th October 2021

We are thrilled to present Always a Show by Aaron Kasmin, following the success of Lucky Strike (2016), Up in Smoke (2017) and Showtime! (2019). Sims Reed Gallery is hosting Kasmin’s fourth exhibition which is inspired by recent American feature matchbook discoveries. This exhibition showcases twenty-nine new pencil drawings which portray vibrant scenes from the post-prohibition era. Focusing on a wide range of themes from bars and restaurants, fashion, sporting events and precious objects, Kasmin is drawn to the rich source of subject matter on these ephemeral objects, which provide endless inspiration. Bold, dynamic, energetic and nostalgic, the vibrancy of these drawings immediately set the scene and transport us back to the dynamism of a bygone America.

Aaron Kasmin
The Bel Air

Coloured pencil drawing, 2020.
30 x 21 cm.

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Kasmin began collecting Lion Match Company’s matchbooks several years ago, inspired by these lively and inventive images. Originally mass-produced for advertising purposes, the humble matchbook soon became the most effective advertising medium in America, which was embraced by almost every industry.

Aaron Kasmin
Metropolis

Coloured pencil drawing, 2020.
21 x 30 cm.

£1,500 framed
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A small selection of Aaron Kasmin’s large collection of matchbooks.

“It’s both a challenge and an exciting task to find new matchbooks that aesthetically fit my artistic aspirations. Knowing there are so many more matchbooks out there gives me momentum, inspiring me to explore and develop further.”

–  Aaron Kasmin

Aaron Kasmin
Models by Mathilde

Coloured pencil drawing, 2020.
30 x 21 cm.

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Aaron Kasmin
Prosperise

Coloured pencil drawing, 2020.
21 x 15 cm.

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“They are wonderful pieces of cultural and social history. The ‘matchbook’ is an object that marks the rise of America’s consumer culture when advertising was still a fairly modern and exciting construction.

–  Aaron Kasmin

 

Aaron Kasmin
Stacy Sport

Coloured pencil drawing, 2020.
30 x 21 cm.

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The drawings were created during the exceptional year of 2020 which saw many of us isolating in our homes. During a time when it has not been possible to travel, Kasmin found “the matchbooks foreign and exciting depictions a great source of inspiration, allowing my mind to wander to exotic places.” When selecting new subject matter he was drawn to the most dynamic and original matchbooks in both colour and themes, which he imbues with his own artistic freedom.

Aaron Kasmin
Always A Show

Coloured pencil drawing, 2020.
30 x 21 cm.

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“These works offer an enticing glimpse into the romantic world of America in the era of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Humphrey Bogart. They are small ephemeral vestiges of Americana.”

 

–  Aaron Kasmin

Aaron Kasmin
The Nut Club

Coloured pencil drawing, 2020.
30 x 21 cm.

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Aaron Kasmin
Leon & Eddie's

Coloured pencil drawing, 2020.
21 x 30 cm

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For 30 years, Leon & Eddie’s was a stellar attraction on New York’s “Swing Street,” a block of West 52nd Street just off 5th Avenue in Manhattan dominated by clubs that featured swing music. The club’s Sunday night celebrity parties attracted a large clientele of show business celebrities, such as George Jessel, Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Milton Berle, Helen Morgan, Jackie Gleason, Marie McDonald and Eydie Gorme.

The comedian, actor and filmmakerJerry Lewis recalled: “Leon and Eddie’s was a mecca for nightclub comics. Sunday night was Celebrity Night: The fun would start after hours, when anybody in the business might show up and get on to do a piece of their act. You’d see the likes of Milton Berle, Henny Youngman, Danny Kaye. It was magical. I used to go and gawk, like a kid in a candy store.”

The matchbooks are small, ephemeral and almost forgotten; the ingenuity of the imagery in what must be the golden age of graphic design is here in minute form. To Kasmin, they conjure up nostalgic imagery of an exciting moment in history and he brings new life to these ephemeral objects with bold, coloured pencil drawings.  Each highly evocative work reproduces a three-dimensional scene or object, transporting the viewer back to a liberal and captivating time.

Aaron Kasmin
The Twist

Coloured pencil drawing, 2021.
30 x 21 cm.

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‘Well, shake it up, baby, now
Twist and shout
Come on, come on, come, come on, baby, now
Come on and work it on out
You know you twist, little girl
You know you twist so fine
Come on and twist a little closer now
And let me know that you’re mine’
Twist and Shout written by Phil Medley and Bert Russell, performed by The Top Notes in 1960 and The Beatles in 1963.
Aaron Kasmin
Stockings

Coloured pencil drawing, 2020.
21 x 30 cm.

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Although these little-known ephemera were considered objects to be used and discarded, rather than appreciated for their dynamic design and artistic qualities. Kasmin’s lifelong passion for cinema led him to engage with the classic and stereotypical depictions of early to mid-twentieth century America, echoed in the lively and inventive images adorned on the matchbooks. Motivated by his ever-growing collection, he decided to turn them into an art form in their own right.

Aaron Kasmin
The Oscars

Coloured pencil drawing, 2020.
21 x 30 cm.

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‘American culture has always been exciting and quite dissimilar from British society. My interest in cinema from an early age allowed me to engage with the classic and stereotypical depictions of America in the first half and middle of the 20th Century; Raymond Chandler, Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald and music by Cole Porter and  Irving Berlin. I love film noirs’.

–  Aaron Kasmin

Aaron Kasmin
Cocoa Nut Grove

Coloured pencil drawing, 2020.
30 x 21 cm.

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“Even without you,
My arms fold about you,
You know darling why,
So in love with you am I.
In love with the night mysterious,
The night when you first were there,
In love with my joy delirious,
When I knew that you could care”. 

–  So in Love by Cole Porter

 

Aaron Kasmin
The Silhouette

Coloured pencil drawing, 2020.
30 x 21 cm.

£1,500 framed
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Kasmin takes several days to create these incredibly detailed unique works on paper, building up A4 and A5 sized drawings using a broad palette of colours. The chalky and matt quality of Carbothello pencils, render a texture similar to that of the matchbooks, allowing for a stencil-like quality that incorporates the matches into the images.

Aaron Kasmin
Julie

Coloured pencil drawing, 2020.
30 x 21 cm.

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Aaron Kasmin
Soldiers

Coloured pencil drawing, 2020.
21 x 15 cm.

£850 framed
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“Having discovered the matchbooks I set about trying to make a collection which has taken a long time, I thought they were so brilliant and also almost completely unknown, especially in England.
I used to get them out and show them occasionally to friends and it was one of them who said I should draw them and  I haven’t stopped since. I decided to make drawings of them as I thought that they were such wonderful pieces of cultural and social history”.

–  Aaron Kasmin

Aaron Kasmin
Bird in Hand

Coloured pencil drawing, 2020.
30 x 21 cm.

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“One of the great things about drawing these matchbooks is that I will never have a complete collection, it’s an impossibility.  So many were produced and very few were kept.  After all, matchbooks are ultimately throw-away objects”. 

–  Aaron Kasmin

Biography |

Aaron Kasmin (b. 1963) is a British contemporary artist based in London. He studied at the Chelsea School of Art in London and has exhibited in New York, Paris and London. He works with watercolour, oil paint and chalk pencils, preferring pencils for these drawings, “as with paint it would all be too fussy drawing is a much more immediate medium,” says Kasmin.

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