SANTA MONICA, CA.- Tarryn Teresa Gallery will present the debut solo exhibition of New York based artist Rachel Kohn, on view August 18th September 22nd. Kohn creates very physical work, which offers the viewer a way to explore the internal landscapes of the body. Employing multiple media such as drawing, painting, sculpture and installation, the artist investigates the caves that exist in our bodies. Whether it is through the visual exploration of a drawing, moving around a sculpture, or literally walking through an installation, all of Kohns work has a consistent language - that which embodies the quality of entering and exploring space. Although these cavernous spaces can be breeding grounds for illness and decay, on closer inspection they reveal a subtle beauty within the darkness.
Kohns work also explores humankinds tendency to romanticize the grotesque. Perhaps this proclivity to extract some beauty from a harrowing experience is born from the natural human desire for catharsis or redemption. The ability to accept weakness in the body and also be able to transcend it is one of the most striking of human qualities. These themes are echoed in Kohns work, as it carries these attributes in both its weight and concurrent fragility.
Process is very important for Kohn. She uses tactile materials including plaster, gauze, foam, paper mâché, plastic, wire, and glue. The use of these materials, along with her chosen color palette generates a visual language of seemingly decaying forms. Just as illness is a foreign invasion on the body, the sense of the body becoming alien is also apparent in these works. Although the forms are primarily evocative of the human body, they also begin to possess the qualities of an organic and alien hybrid.
Originally trained as a painter, Kohn often rubs paint into the surface of a sculpture, leaving an impression in the texture. This way of printmaking on different surfaces is a way for the artist to explore the painted surface beyond that of a two-dimensional painting. The layering of each piece creates a history that becomes an integral part of the overall work. This method of revealing and concealing layers creates rich and seductive surfaces. These layers allude to an underlying structure that is vulnerable to unravel at any point, but which simultaneously possess an innate strength.
The universal themes of passage and ultimate transcendence are reflected in the layout of the exhibition. The entry way is filled with Kohns drawings which are small in scale and much like an exploration of a sutured space unraveling. The main space houses the sculptural pieces, and in the intimate and narrow back room of the gallery, Kohn has constructed a cave. Soaking hand-stitched pieces of fabric in white paint she has created a cocoon, which is both a safe haven from the grotesque and an optimistic ending for the journey. Throughout the exhibition, the viewer is placed at the entryway to literal and metaphorical caves, experiencing the palpable tension found at the edge of an abyss. It is that pivotal turning point - literally our darkest hour where we are forced to overcome fear and hardship, gaining the valuable lessons found within.
Rachel Kohn has a B.A. from Skidmore College and is currently completing the final year of her M.F.A at Hunter College.