News - Strike a Light

Sims Reed Gallery in London presents Strike a Light, featuring matchbook-inspired art by British artist Aaron Kasmin, opening this summer from 9th June – 20th July ...

Press Release

His biggest show to date, Strike A Light will mark Aaron Kasmin’s fifth solo exhibition with over 30 new works that are all large in scale, more detailed and diverse, yet equally as bold, dynamic and captivating.

Inspired by American feature matchbooks, Strike a Light will showcase Aaron Kasmin’s signature style of fusing together vibrant colours with [literally - Ed] striking imagery to shed a new light on American culture. While the matchbooks are small, ephemeral and almost forgotten, this exhibition will bring to life themes from food and travel to fashion and sports as it aims to inject a bit of much-needed fun into our everyday lives.

Strike A Light pays homage to the glitz and glamour of the post-prohibition era through a myriad of nostalgic chalk pencil drawings drawn from the artist’s own treasured vintage matchbook collection. Motivated by his ever-growing collection, which will be on display as part of the exhibition, he decided to turn them into an art form in their own right. Their stencil-like quality incorporates the matches within the works themselves and reflect the rise of America’s consumer culture.

Sims Reed Gallery will transform the space into the dynamism of a bygone America, setting the opulent party scene for viewers to wander to exotic places, and venture back in time to the glamourous early to mid-20th Century America – also known as a romantic world in the era of F Scott Fitzgerald, Humphrey Bogart and Raymond Chandler.

Having acquired his first matchbook in 2012, Kasmin became an avid collector of Lion Match Company’s matchbooks and was inspired by their lively and inventive images that reflect the rise of America’s consumer culture, originally mass-produced for advertising purposes. In the early 1920s, the humble matchbook soon became the most effective advertising medium and embraced by almost every industry. Its broad range of subjects are colourfully reflected in this exhibition.

Highlights of Strike A Light include Bubbles – a new artwork featuring a model taken straight out of a film noir encapsulating the nightlife and excitement of the times. 

This will hang alongside The Palette, where the paint brush holding the paint has been cleverly re-interpreted as the striking part of the match, something Kasmin refers to as “a genius idea, and all artists need a palette'. 

In The Chef, the refined and graphic design has a touch of Roy Lichtenstein with the dots, use of primary colours and simple forms whilst simultaneously highlighting the chef's unwavering focus and expertise. 

Additionally, a depiction of an intimate moment between a couple in Coleman House Bar, reminds the viewer of a romantic scene from a Fitzgerald novel, and will be on display alongside Scotty’s, perfectly portraying the style of the times as a well-groomed dog patiently waits outside a beauty salon for its mistress.

Aaron Kasmin said, “Matchbooks are wonderful pieces of cultural and social history that mark the rise of America’s consumer culture when advertising was still a fairly modern and exciting construction. My work draws attention to these forgotten ephemeral masterworks of art.”

Chloe Christian, Director at Sims Reed Gallery, added, 'We are thrilled to be partnering with Aaron for his fifth exhibition with us, Strike a Light. This wonderful series of works invoke energy, dynamism and fun, exporting us to new and exciting places. The works are beautifully and painstakingly rendered with so much depth, detail and colour, lighting up the gallery walls”.

As one of London’s leading galleries specialising in original prints and works on paper, Sims Reed Gallery at 43A Duke Street, St. James’s, London has led successful exhibitions of some of the finest modern, post-war and contemporary printmakers including Eileen Cooper, Allen Jones, Bridget Riley, Frank Stella, Sol LeWitt, David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin and Henry Moore amongst others.

Aaron Kasmin remains one of the gallery’s most successful contemporary artists. Opening from 9th June – 20th July 2023, Strike a Light will also be accompanied by an online viewing room. Find out more on the gallery website at

Images - courtesy Aaron Kasmin/Sims Reed Gallery
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