Life isn’t always sweet, but when it is, what’s better than sharing that moment with others? In his fourth solo exhibition with Hashimoto Contemporary, Sweet Bountiful Life, Casey Gray focuses on the simple joys and beauty of food at the table as a beacon for shared experience, community, and family. From monumental bouquets spilling over their vases to epic breakfast spreads fit for a king, Gray’s signature blend of acrylic spray paint and hand-cut masking techniques transform everyday rituals into exaggerated plenty. “Whether it’s brunch, hors d’oeuvres, or just dessert,” the artist mused, “the show is a testament to the enduring power of art and food to bring people together.”

Maple syrup oozes over a stack of fluffy pancakes onto a long-loved serving dish; a prize-winning fish tumbles onto the dining table; warmed brie melts onto a familiar ceramic plate. The teeming arrangements of culinary creations offer a visual and literal feast for the viewer. While the artworks lack figuration, it’s abundantly clear that each meal was made to be shared. Gray’s paintings are in no way balanced meals but rather “potluck-style arrays of complimentary dishes, each with their own attitude and significance.” The individual who brought donuts to Still Life with a Big Breakfast might not be eating a bowl of cornflakes with fruit; the selection of soft and hard cheeses garnished with nuts and figs in Still Life with Mostly Cheeses was assembled through group chat consultation. Each meal, rendered with exquisite detail and beaming with personality, has something for and from everyone, creating a portrait of loved ones gathered to not just eat but to indulge.

Gray’s works are boldly colored and meticulously configured, similar to European masters of the 16th and 17th centuries; groupings of certain fruits, meats, and treats offer symbols of bounty and pleasure. But, unlike the artists that inspire his work, Gray’s paintings are optimistic and utopic, encompassing the sweetness found in various aspects of our journey. These are bounties to be shared, not hoarded. Together, the paintings offer moments we may recognize: tables we may have sat at with others, meals we may have shared, or gifts we may have given. When lived with others, life is sweet.

Sweet Bountiful Life opens on April 6th with a reception from 5 pm - 7 pm at 1275 Minnesota Street.