Abaton Garage is pleased to present Oblique Forms: Spray Paint Paintings, Photographs, The Hybrid Indexical Adventure Series, an exhibition of recent paintings, photographs, and works on synthetic paper by Cora Cohen. Widely considered one of the most materially inventive and intensely investigative of New York painters, Cohen continues to produce work that is formally and conceptually experimental.
Cora Cohen has rigorously, playfully, and passionately explored painting’s methods and materials from the late eighties on through to the present. Pencil, oil, and acrylic are just some of the tools of the trade she has utilized in both standard and unorthodox ways. More radically, she deploys spray paint, minerals, and drop cloths
- invoking respectively the commercial, natural, and industrial realms - as means of opening up her work formally and conceptually to wider frames of reference.
This exhibition comprises three quite distinct series and includes some of Cohen’s most complex work to date. In The Hybrid Indexical Adventure Series, shown here for the first time, Cohen explores new forms with an expanded freedom and subtlety. Simultaneously dreamy and determined, her errant lines build and/or occupy structures that both contend with and abide within an inchoate muck of industrial Day-Glo tinged with nostalgic sepia tones. Agitated surface textures take on a resemblance to topography, revealing unexpected forms within disorienting spatial constructions. In the Spray Paint Paintings, all on linen, the spray paint is at once poetically resonant and abjectly ordinary, thereby confounding any easy opposition between aesthetic intent and random mark making.
For Cohen, photography is a form of visual note taking. She records overlooked, neglected spaces in her environment that have been emptied out as a result of the entropic forces of urban decay. Her photographs Chambers Street Subway depict the complexities of civic absence and presence in a time of social and economic turmoil. Cohen also creates another kind of photograph, such as Paint Bucket on Phone 1, in which quotidian objects in commonplace settings coalesce into a perceptually ambiguous landscape that manages to be witty, elegant, and absurd, all at the same time.
There are over twenty works in this exhibition, all from 2007. These images conjoin the energizing optimism of discovery with an abiding fascination with decay. Cohen achieves oblique forms that reflect, intuitively and enigmatically, our most human concerns and desires.