The Artist’s Way: Jordan Casteel, Painter

In this special feature, T photographed and interviewed 34 artists from various disciplines about 24 hours in their creative lives.

Article by Sandra E Garcia

Jordan CasteelCasteel, photographed at her studio in Port Morris, the Bronx, on September 20, 2021. Photography by Aundre Larrow.

Here, I was preparing for a show at the Massimo De Carlo gallery in London [“Jordan Casteel: There Is a Season” opened on Oct 11, 2021]. Over the years, I’d been building a body of work arising from a spectrum of experiences and thoughts, and I felt like this show was a reflection of the different kinds of works that I’m capable of or always thinking about. This was my first international solo exhibition, which was super exciting.

Who I am is embedded in these paintings. The beauty of our souls is that they’re often stronger and more grounded than we can see them as being. At times they can seem shielded, but they’re also dark. That darkness is unwavering for me. If a viewer can look at one of my paintings and sense that I’ve imbued it with all that I care about, then I know I’m doing my job right.

I’m not a religious person, but I act like one when I’m painting; it’s probably as close to being connected to a higher power or possessing a spiritual sense that I get. It’s a moment where I’m relinquishing control. I’m pretty controlling — except in my paintings. Everything goes away. It’s meditative. I’m released to the person or the object in the painting, and to the paint itself. And I’m peaceful. Things quiet.

I’ve found a kinship with many of the people I paint. It’s less about them than it is about aspects of them that I see in myself. I want people to see me, and they often don’t. Painting becomes a tool to get people to see the multiplicity of our selves: our sadness, our joy, our love, our loss, our moments of stillness, the moments that don’t get heard. In that way, every painting is an opportunity for me to give a little slice of myself.

This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our seventh edition, Page 76 of T Australia with the headline: “The Artist’s Way”