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Homebound, by Steven Assael, oil on canvas, 60"x72"

Last year, I attended a visiting artist lecture at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where Steven Assael, a New York native artist, was the guest speaker.

I was electrified at his presentation, and sat eagerly forward on my chair throughout the entire slideshow.  Seeing his work blown up large in a darkened theatre brought a new intensity to it.

D, oil on canvas, 62.5x92.5 inches, by Steven Assael 1998

What struck me about Steven’s work was the emotional pull of it.  In each of his characters that he paints, it is as if he put thier very soul into the image.  He is unflinching in depicting the relationship of the sitter and the painter, and lets you in to see the vulnerability and inner workings of his subjects.

There is also a drama, a sweet strain of sadness and mystery that runs through his work.  It seems as if he purposefully chooses unusual subjects physically, so that through his paintings he can give them a dignity and humanity that many people overlook.

Drawing by Steven Assael

After the lecture, I spoke to Mr. Assael about his work.  He was truly one of the kindest artists I’ve ever met, with a humility and quiet gravity to him, much like the work he produces.  It struck me how much you can tell about an artist by simply the work that he or she does.  In most cases, you are very much what you paint, for it comes out of the deepest place in your soul.

Nicole and James, oil on canvas, by Steven Assael, 32x20 inches, 2005

For more information about Steven Assael, check out this documentary on his work here.