Demystifying through Art
By Jorge de la Fuente
Arts expressionistic patrimony has significantly marked mans vision and
everyday life since the latter part of the 19th Century. The liberating act
conferred an unprecedented plastic autonomy to color and shape is the
expressive complement of a thematic thats very much centered on society and the
problems of existence. Anguish, lack of communication, alienation and
desecration of myths about modern life and progress are among the motives that
inspired the expressionist rebellion.
Expressionistic poetry is linked in different ways to primitive art, popular
representation forms and even childrens art because its there where an
"uncontaminated" source of expression can be found, where emotions
and the exploration of the most revealing interior experiences are given free
reign. Perhaps that explains the autobiographical aspects of the works of many
expressionists, or at least, the active presence of personal experiences in
Rudolf Kohns paintings are intense and dramatic but with fine touches of humor
and great irony. The way in which he adopts expressionist codes seems to
reflect his origins peculiar cultural symbiosis: son of a German father and
Colombian mother. His works combine rationality with precision in the drawing
of exalted fantasies and the magic of someone who has lived the uncommon as
part of daily life.
This artists critical sensibility touches with equal questioning dosages on
aspects of societys realities, which range from a sort of an expression of
Caribbean regional customs to the big subjects of alienation and existential
perplexity. The subjects of violence, machismo, the mechanization of human life
and death itself are represented with the peculiar sharpness of someone who
observes reality with a mix of involvement and distance.
In much of Kohns works there is a strong presence of graphic elements that
along with the caricaturization of its characters and the explosive use of
color make up images that are very similar to the way in which signs and
illustration were reformulated by Pop Art. This is an interesting fact because
it contrasts with the actual artists other types of more Baroque and informal
painting, in which color stains, canvas scratches, oil drips and the general
conception of composition propose a more distressful look at man in what seems
to be a permanent homage to Edward Munchs "The Scream."
In fact, Kohn is an artist whose aesthetical and social motives come in a broad
fan of different tones, accents and symbols that, despite their differences,
always have to do with a critical and demystifying look at todays culture. More
than likely faces, his characters seem to be an alter ego that is revealed as a
mask and simulacrum; however, a sort of compassionate lyricism peeks out
sometimes, which is ironys other aspect.
Thats why his scenes may come to be grotesque or, on the contrary, project an
image in which figures show an overwhelming abandonment in dehumanized
atmosphere where everything even a flower seems artificial. Somehow, the
ironized situation moves the artist and that is reflect in his level of
commitment to this subject, in how he identifies himself with those beings
transmuted by his imagination into symbols of the human condition.
Whats heterodox is not only found in the subject matter or in his treatment of
plastic; Kohn is an artist who knows no boundaries and who resorts to any
expressive recourse as he tries to communicate to us not a particular anecdote
but an artistic event. Ever since his first works, the experimentation with
techniques, media and unconventional props showed the need to find symbols that
transmitted an artistic idea powerfully and originally. Stucco, wood, jute
sacks, collages or wooden boxes with personal objects or pictorial effects are
among the alternatives the artists chose to show the semantic value of
materials and props.
If the presence of wheels, transmission pulleys and other mechanical devices
that articulate the human body is a direct way of representation the
substitution of the soul or the spiritual by technology an image thats
characteristic of the "Bicharros" series-, the other constant symbol
in Kohns works is the transcendental and omnipresent eye. The eye- according to
the artist himself- is the earthly incarnation of Gods presence and shows that
that everything is lost.
Finally, Kohns painting is also an exploration of those contrasts between
authenticity and alienation, between whats human and divine, between whats
transcendental and daily. And along that path of searches he has conquered the
language of original codes that manage to have a more emotional impact on
spectators than the reality itself that they reveal.
Demystifying through Art.