Gurney Journey: Five Rules for Painting

Wyatt Kahn “Knots & Figures” at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Vienna

A syntax of irregular, disarticulated, and structured forms typifies Wyatt Kahn’s a few-dimensional wall will work, assembled into compositions as abstract as they are connotative. Take into consideration A Bar, exactly where geometries of semi-round apertures, lower out of square enclosures, accumulate on a dense surface area, like seared-by way of coasters or 50 percent-empty glasses remaining in disarray on a countertop. Or Untitled (Him and Us), which reprises a motif common to Kahn’s lexicon―a vertical system articulated through the accumulation of a stack of skinny, rib-like bands at its main, amplified, wrapped, even embraced by rigid U-formed arms that lace more than and less than the key ground. Anthropomorphizing metaphors arise conveniently, as he playfully straddles the line concerning geometric abstraction and figuration, between painting and sculpture, all the even though intervening in just about every category’s respective and entangled historic lineages and discourses. And then there are his titles: The Female with Hoops, Acrobat. Kahn’s syntax, articulated in variety, is a grammar of symptoms inside of which language, as well, plays an crucial role.

Just take Standing Bather, an assembly of vertical edged columns staging a collecting of sorts—one that culls from the large annals of artwork historic figures of the bather, only to render them here, unadorned, uncooked, unmodulated, as mere evocation. The subjects in this sequence, hinted at in spite of the seeming abstraction of Kahn’s sorts, are deeply embedded in fields of reference spanning art historical past, but also the each day, the domestic, the individual, the imagined: Acrobat may possibly gesture to Picasso’s 1930 titular portraits of adaptable figures contorting the human sort into unbelievable postures, but it may well just as conveniently evoke objects as quotidian as the stage ladders in the artist’s studio and property, to say nothing of the narrative options that may possibly occur from the conflation of equally nouns. Kahn never ever completely casts out the matter instead, it might reappear only due to the fact summary geometries lend it new variety.

In fact, by means of his elaboration of the shaped canvas―a venture he has undertaken considering the fact that the start out of his inventive career―Kahn has taken a exceptional technique to pictorial fears, refracted via a sculptural lens. If his get the job done has progressed at the intersection of portray and sculpture, it has also, far more lately, intentionally revisited equally mediums as unbiased fields in which to reenact and sometimes expand on–the experiments carried out at their crossing. In “Knots & Figures,” a new sequence of oil paintings on canvas, elaborated along with corresponding or relevant formed canvases, compress the latter’s dimensional perform inside of a single pictorial airplane. In their intricate overlays of strains, kinds, colors, and strokes, Kahn’s oil paintings are like aggregates of the additive and subtractive strategies that tell his wall performs, reverse-engineered to redeploy these functions in a purely pictorial sign up. Listed here, determine and floor hover and supplant one particular a further fluidly, suspended at the surface that the two recedes and advancements in depthless room. With these forms’ sculptural analogues in mind, for Kahn, painting can never reassume its static location as the medium of illusion, nor can it simply just perform as the medium of flatness.

Unsurprising, but surely not unremarkably, then, is Kahn’s embrace of higher-aid, practically no cost-standing sculpture in a new sequence of small, solid bronzes. While his sculpture has taken monumental dimension in his 2021 community operates commissioned for outdoor show, these new bronzes are much less environmental than they are object-like, personal, visceral even, in their literalization of the internal, official associations evoked in his “flat” wall-hung functions. Endowed with quantity and mass, these sculptures render plane and line in place: thin serpentine lines turn out to be intestinal conduits knotted and wrapped close to a central, supporting shape outlined by constructive mass and minimize-out voids. These are familiar staples of the artist’s visible repertoire resurfaced, or reconstituted as extra than, further than, surface―a transposition that, throughout mediums, resources, supports, and substrates, provides nevertheless one more dimension to Kahn’s ongoing project.

Rachel Valinsky

at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Vienna
till December 22, 2022

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