Evocative Figurative Paintings by Jordan Casteel

A painting of two young black men sitting outside of a shopJoe and Mozel (Pompette Wines), oil on canvas

Jordan Casteel lives and works in New York, where she creates evocative figurative paintings of urban life and residents. Casteel’s painted subjects tend to be pictured in candid poses and situations, with a sense of deliberateness in expression and details.

A painting of a figure sitting on a subway with face obscuredSubway Hands, oil on canvas


I like the blend of realism and style in Casteel’s paintings. Her subjects gaze intently out of the picture plane at the viewer, creating a rather intense viewing experience. Casteel’s paintings generally surround the subjects with environments that are familiar or important to them – urban street corners, interiors of homes and businesses, even subway cars. In most of the paintings the human figures are given central focus, imbued with a sense of confidence that allows them to dominate the detailed backgrounds.


Casteel uses a varied color palette and blocky, gestural shading to give each image a dramatic sense of volume. In some works, small details like hands or objects are left unworked or uncolored, a choice which paradoxically emphasizes their importance.

A painting of two people sitting outside a buildingThe Baayfalls, oil on canvas

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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