When first viewing 20-year-old Jack Caserta’s abstract paintings you notice obscure words. They may seem lost in his paintings, yet they could not be more purposeful. They stir the onlooker to inspect the works more thoroughly and to stop and think. “All of the words are intentional, to serve a message. But what they mean is up to the viewer to decide. I never want to impose a way to interpret my art,” says Caserta. Caserta’s main goal is to capture emotions, feelings, and a certain energy in his dramatic use of color. “I use multiple mediums in order to illustrate it all.” Strewn across his studio are examples of his mixed media, empty cans of spray paint and worn out oil pastels.
This lifelong Fairfielder’s big break came last year when Pequot Library displayed one of his pieces in the “21 Under 21” competition from its Wet Paint Art Show. At the time of submission Caserta was working in Charleston. His grandmother came to the house, grabbed one of his paintings, and entered it into the competition. “She knew I would never have done it myself. I like to be the guy behind the scenes, not the salesman,” says Caserta. That was a serendipitous event. Caserta’s piece won first place and it earned him a three-week solo exhibition at the library. Award-winning photographer and Westport resident Arpad Krizsan chose Caserta’s work entitled Females and sited the young artist’s technique, composition, and raw talent as the components which set his work apart from the other artists.
“The feedback from Jack’s exhibition was very positive and resulted in many sales. Viewers marveled at the scope and depth of Caserta’s works and felt like they were experiencing history in the making of the next Basquiat,” says Caroline Crawford, Pequot Library’s community relations & advancement manager.
Caserta’s inspiration and production always happens at night, “I’ll work from 11 pm to 5 am and sleep the day away.” His studio feels like a casino, the whirlwind of energy and lack of natural light makes it impossible to decipher what time it is outside. In freshman year of high school he took his first art class. “The assignment was to replicate a Picasso. After I had finished, my teacher asked me if she could buy it,” says Caserta with a big smile. As talented as he was at such a young age, “I never seriously thought about pursuing it as a career until later.”
Paintings lie strewn all around his home studio. His finished pieces lie to one side while in a small nook presides his actual workspace. In many ways the area is simple: a couch, some shelving for supplies, and three unfinished pieces hang on the wall. “The entire space is the art,” he explains. The walls are littered with different designs, paintings, and memos. The walls are a canvas for him.
When Caserta decided to take a year off school and head to Charleston to pursue his art his parents supported him. “My family is all doctors and dentists, but I always knew deep down that that was not the path I wanted to take, and they have supported me,” he says. Studying alongside his ambitious peers at Fairfield Prep, he followed the traditional path to college, but really just wanted to pursue art.
His focus on his craft is paying off. Caserta recently sold paintings to collectors in New York, Connecticut, and South Carolina, and participated in “Traveling Through the Light,” an exhibit at Artios Gallery in New York, which now represents him. “Fashion is the next space I want to enter,’’ he says as he grabs a hand-illustrated denim jacket. “My own clothes are covered in paint unintentionally,” but he believes it defines him. “It makes people take a second look and understand I’m probably doing something creative.”