PMW GALLERY


Kahn, Renee

DREAMSCAPES
July 17 - August 10, 2016


Dream Towers #4
oil on canvas
25½ x 34½”



Dream Towers #9
oil on canvas
26¼ x 36¾”



Dream Towers #17
oil on canvas

26⅜ x 36"



Dream Towers #8
oil on canvas
21½ x 31"



Dream Towers #14
oil on canvas

26⅛ x 35½”



Dream Towers #1
oil on canvas
23½ x 34⅝”



Dream Towers #2
oil on canvas

36½ x 48¼”



Dream Towers #18

oil on canvas

24 x 36"


Dream Towers #5
oil on canvas
48½ x 36⅛”



Dream Towers #3
oil on canvas
48¾ x 36”



Dream Towers #10
oil on canvas

52 x 36¼”



Dream Towers #15
oil on canvas
52⅜ x 36¼”



Dream Towers #16
oil on canvas
47⅜ x 35½”



Dream Towers #6
oil on canvas
47⅞ x 36”



Dream Towers #12
charcoal on brown paper

48½ x 37”
                                                          



Dream Towers #7
oil on canvas
40 x 36”

                                           


Dream Towers #11
oil and charcoal on canvas

47⅜ x 35¼”




Dream Towers #13
oil on canvas

34⅝ x 24¼”




Dreamscapes #17

mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”



Dreamscapes #11
mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”



Dreamscapes #16
mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”



Dreamscapes #15
mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”



Dreamscapes #14
mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”



Dreamscapes #13
mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”
 

                  
Dreamscapes #12
mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”



Dreamscapes #10
mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”



Dreamscapes #9
mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”



Dreamscapes #8
mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”



Dreamscapes #7
mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”



Dreamscapes #6
mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”
 



Dreamscapes #5
mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”



Dreamscapes #11

mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”



Dreamscapes #3
mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”




Dreamscapes #2
mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”


Dreamscapes #1
mixed media
17 x 14 x 3½”







Artist Statement



FROM MY DAUGHTER’S WINDOW


Eight and a half years ago, I slipped on black ice and broke my ankle forcing me to spend six weeks in a nursing home and an additional six weeks in the “handicapped accessible” apartment of my daughter and her husband on West End Avenue in Manhattan.  They went about their busy New York lives, leaving me in the gentle care of the housekeeper, Julia.  Unable to go out on my own, I found myself confined to the guest room with its glorious 11th floor views of the city, and nothing to do.  In retrospect, it was one of the most productive, wonderful periods of my life.

 

A recent letter to the New York Times quoted the writer, Amy Tan, as expressing the “classic writer’s fantasy – going to jail to have enough time to read and write. “  In my case, I had six weeks of uninterrupted time to draw, finally understanding much of what I had been taught but never fully comprehended.  Every morning, I pulled my chair up to the window overlooking West End Avenue, took out a pad and pencil and began to sketch the same scene over and over again for six weeks.  I’ve never been much good at architectural rendering, barely passing the subject in college, but my initial efforts on a small (4 x 6”) scale were passable.

 

Hour after hour, day after day, I drew the same scene ―in all kinds of weather and light, and from different vantage points.  The drawings grew somewhat larger, never exceeding 8 by 10 inches.  I generally finished one in the morning and another one after lunch.  In a sense, I was proceeding on the path taken by Cezanne in his sixty-plus views of Mount Ste. Victoire, or Monet in his numerous views of the Cathedral of Rouen or his waterlily pond.  By repeating the same subject matter, over and over again, I could reach its essence, go beyond the purely visual and create art.  As I worked, I kept hearing Manet’s words: “There are no lines in nature.” He, of course, was referring to the way shapes are formed by flat areas of color butted up against one another.  I was doing drawings, and my shapes were formed by the black, white and gray of the pencil.

 

I discovered that the scene before me was constantly changing.  In bright sunshine, the edges of dark and light were clear and defined; when the weather was cloudy or near evening, grayness took over, muting the buildings and the sky.  I had accidentally come across the perfect drawing paper, a heavy tan “butcher” stock I found lining tables at a nearby restaurant. It provided my work with a “middle tone” that allowed for deep charcoal darks and white pencil accents. 

 

Six weeks later, fully healed, I went home, resumed my regular life and put the drawings away. 

 

About eighteen months ago, I pulled the drawings back out.  Six years removed from their creation, I saw them more as surrealist dream states than actual copies of buildings.  Over the six weeks of drawing the same window scene over and over, I had entered, without being aware of it, a psychological state known as “breaking set,” (literally, “breaking down a mindset”), which refers to freeing oneself from habitual responses and thought processes.  This enabled me to approach the scene before me, not as a drawing “problem,” but one of depicting shapes, the ever-changing light, intriguing shadows, mists and clouds, mysterious people and menacing black birds.

 

Inspired by seeing with fresh eyes the evolution of the original drawings, I began making paintings based on the drawings, which are the centerpieces of the PMW Gallery exhibition.  The paintings push the images further away from visual reality. The perspective is off; nothing goes to a proper vanishing point. Barely-defined people appear on rooftops, alongside classical arcades, ornate cornices and robot-like water towers. What are they doing there? 

 

The mixed media boxes were added to the works included in the PMW Gallery exhibition because Patsy Whitman and I agreed that they “spoke to” the paintings in some way.  While the boxes are from a distinctly different series of work, done a decade prior to the paintings, there seems to be a connection between them.  It’s been suggested that the boxes have the effect of “zooming in” on what’s happening on the ground, by making the people larger and the focus narrower.  While using photographic collage to give the appearance of reality, the juxta-positioning of people and place gives a surrealist quality of another sort, and a question similar to the one raised by the paintings about just what the people are up to.

 

I can’t explain the visual non-sequiturs in the boxes or the paintings.  The truth is, I don’t actually know.  Ultimately, it’s up to the viewer to decide what’s going on.  Art needs mystery; it shouldn’t give up its secrets easily or at first glance.

 

 

Renée Kahn

July 2016

Adapted from Blogspot #19_12.20.13







Youtube - Renee Kahn
Published, January 30, 2016
Produced by Leslie Wittman






Résumé




ARTIST:              Painter, Printmaker, Photographer, Designer, Exhibit Curator
EDUCATOR:      Professor, Art and Architectural History, Public Speaker
WRITER:            Editor, Author and Designer of Books and Newsletters
COMMUNITY:   Founder, Director Non-Profit Preservation Organization, Activist, Community Affairs and
                          Urban Design, Founder of Community Arts Organizations


STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

My art is rooted in German Expressionism, a period of social upheaval and cynicism similar to our own. Satirical in nature, the work is based on the humanist tradition and my desire to see people as more than objects to be manipulated for personal gain.


SUMMARY ART RESUME

Renee Kahn graduated from the High School of Music & Art in New York City and received her graduate and undergraduate degrees in Art from the City College of New York. She continued her studies at Columbia University’s School of Architecture and Planning and ventured into printmaking with Antonio Frasconi at the Pratt Graphic Art Center in New York City.

 

Kahn taught art history at the University of Connecticut’s Stamford Campus from 1973 to 1998, specializing in American art and architecture as well as early 20th century art. She used her expertise in American architecture to work as a consultant in the field of historic preservation and to form the Historic Neighborhood Preservation Program, Inc., a non-profit organization specializing in the rehabilitation of inner-city housing. Her book, Preserving Porches, published by Henry Holt in 1990, sold over 12,000 copies and is considered a classic in the field.

While raising a family, Kahn continued her creative life. After leaving the Ward-Nasse Gallery on Prince Street in SOHO in the late ‘70s, she removed herself from the New York art scene, but continued to develop her distinctive satiric language, transforming her experiences as an art historian and a preservationist into art. A monumental construction, Box City, consisting of over 150 tableaux that displayed the panorama of urban life was shown to critical acclaim in 1996 at the SOHO 20 Gallery in New York City and a portion is currently on permanent display at the Tully Center in Stamford.

 

Kahn has shown her work in close to one hundred group and one-person shows throughout New England, including large-scale exhibits at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, NH, at the Bruce Museum and the Hurlburt Gallery in Greenwich, CT, at the William Benton Museum in Storrs, CT, and at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center, the Loft Artists Gallery and the University of Connecticut Gallery in Stamford, CT.

In 2000, Kahn curated and participated in a group show entitled Vulcan’s Forge at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center, featuring sculptors who use scrap metal in their work.  From 2004-2006, she created over 100 three-dimensional photo collage boxes of an imaginary city based on Stamford, CT.  In 2007, Kahn was invited to participate in a group show of “shrines” at the Neuberger Museum in Purchase, N.Y., curated by conceptualist artist, Lee Ming Wei.  Her shrine was entitled Memorial to a Lost City and reflected her dual life as an artist and preservationist.  In 2007, her boxes appeared in a one-person show at the University of Connecticut gallery in Stamford and in 2009, she had a solo show of paintings at the Loft Artists Gallery in Stamford. In the summer of 2010, she participated in two exhibits entitled Woman in the 21st Century: Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage at the Pierre Menard Gallery in Cambridge, MA and at the HP Garcia Gallery in Chelsea in New York City. 

 

Kahn is a founder of the Loft Artists Association, a collaborative of artists working in Stamford’s South End. Over the years, she has created monumental pieces for their annual open studios, including a satiric performance piece for the overhead projector entitled Dance to the Music.  Her most recent example of art by projector was presented in March, 2012 at Franklin Street Works, a non- profit, experimental artists’ space in Stamford, which consisted of super-sized images she took of the Lower East Side when she was in her twenties. She is currently working on a performance piece involving a cast of 8 foot tall cardboard puppets influenced by the German satirist playwright, Berthold Brecht.

 

Kahn will be featured at PMW Gallery in Stamford from July 17 through August 10, 2016, in a solo exhibition entitled Dreamscapes, which includes selected boxes from Kahn’s Lost City series, and a new series of paintings, Dream Towers, completed over the past 18 months.   

 

The Dream Towers paintings on display for the first time at PMW Gallery originated several years ago when a broken ankle forced Kahn to rehabilitate at her daughter’s “handicapped accessible” apartment in Manhattan. Confined for six weeks, Kahn spent her days drawing and re-drawing the sprawling rooftops and river seen from the guest room window.  “By repeating the same subject matter, over and over again,” Kahn says, “I could go beyond the purely visual and reach its essence.” In the process, the artist discovered a new freedom in her forced confinement. “My prison,” she says, “had wings.”

 

Returning to the drawings 18 months ago, Kahn saw them more as surrealist dream states than actual copies of buildings, and began making paintings based on the drawings, which are the centerpieces of the PMW Gallery exhibition.  The paintings push the images further away from visual reality. The perspective is off; nothing goes to a proper vanishing point. Barely-defined people appear on rooftops, alongside classical arcades, ornate cornices and robot-like water towers. What are they doing there?  “I don’t actually know,” Kahn says.  “Let the viewer decide what they’re doing up there on the rooftops,” she adds. “Art needs mystery; it shouldn’t give up its secrets easily.”












 
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