Ethan Kohen | KUBE, 192 Verplanck Ave, Beacon, NY, 12508

What is painting these days, and what is paint? The answer of course is - anything- anything at all...Perhaps the considerations that can always be said to be primary are the ‘picture plane’ and a two dimensional format that of necessity yields other dimensions. The acceptance of this format as a given in any work usually leads one to immediately look at three or four things: the constitution of the actual material object, its context, its comment on its own context, the artist himself.


In this exhibition there are 8 paintings on paper, all approx. 8 by 4 feet. They are mostly what one would consider black and white, although to me, this is very nuanced color. All are mounted on a rigid backing and hung as would be any painting. The gallery has a long wall of windows called out by the paintings’ rectangular format and reflective surface.

The surface of each work is articulated by broad strokes and inchoate images. These are first made on thin acrylic sheets in an always-wet bath, and finally transferred to the paper. The gesture is destroyed and brought back again. We see what is possible when an artist has virtuosic technical command of an ephemera of wrappings, powders and water. So what is he doing with these operations? He is probably trying to fail.

The abstract expressionists translated the heroism and ideals of the WWII years into painting. The meaning of that substantial risk has finally been obliterated by the overarching pursuit of money. The resultant abjection includes everyone, especially the rich who have rigged their own game. Consequently, when success or failure seems impossible to define in other ways, one can but struggle against the confines of one’s own form and hope for transcendence.

Linda Francis

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