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 that’s 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 children’s 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 thematic selection. Rudolf Kohn’s 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 artist’s critical sensibility touches with equal questioning dosages on aspects of society’s 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 Kohn’s 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 Munch "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 today’s 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 irony’s other aspect. That’s 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 ionized 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. What’s 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 that’s characteristic of the "Bicharros" series-, the other constant symbol in Kohn’s 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, Kohn’s painting is also an exploration of those contrasts between authenticity and alienation, between what’s human and divine, between what’s 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.