Sunday, January 31, 2016

Who is Candra Cassini?

For many years, since about 2003 I reckon, there has been an artist given the name Candra Cassini who has donated up to 6 paintings each year to RCA Secret.

In modern life to be a successful artist, in common with most other professions, you need to promote yourself or have others (gallerists or publicists) promote you on your behalf.   Virtually every artist will have their own website or at the very least a page on Saatchi arts.   Most will have a facebook page, an Instagram feed, a twitter profile.  Those signed with a gallery will also have the benefit of that galleries promotional activity. 
Yet Candra Cassini has none of this.  We know nothing about her.  Her cards have attracted a lot of attention over the years.  Buyers have been attracted to her meticulous, almost photorealistic little paintings.  Others have commented favourably and less favourably about her contributions in the press (see for example the comments by Grayson Perry in this article - Cassini's painting was the one of the queen below).    

But if you google Candra Cassini all you get is RCA Secret references, many to this blog, and one old auction result of a painting that was sold by Chiswick Auctions in 2014 of Chelsea pensioners.  It seems that the auctioneers of this painting didn’t know who Candra Cassini was either describing her as “21st Century British School.”  Given the subject matters of all of these paintings is she really likely to be Italian?

In 2004 I emailed the college to ask them about who Cassini was and got back this response:

"Candra was privately tutored in the style of the old masters by an unnamed tutor, whose works are mounted in the Louvre, Paris.  As far as I know she had not taken part in any other group shows or solo shows...

Her small statement read:

Some of my paintings have featured on Satellite television, my paintings have been published in magazines.  His Holiness Pope John Paul II has one of my paintings in the Vatican.  Presently, I'm completing a Biblical oil painting by Christmas for a church in Rome"
But of course in those days the internet was in its infancy.  Only a few artists had websites.  It is more extraordinary now that we know so little about her.

My best guess, and this is guess – Candra Cassini is an alias or a nom de plume if you like for someone else.  Possibly a member of staff at the college who for many years has been anonymously donating these cards to RCA secret and seeing what feedback he or she gets. 
What do you think?


Lisa said...

I managed (after several years of trying) to get one of her cards last year so I'd love to know but at the same time sort of love the mystery!

Don Wood said...

I love a mystery. I never knew about her until ten minutes ago but that is part of the plot. I dont even recon she is female some of the work is too masculine or is that just me??