if I'm painting I'm not here!
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.
Demystifying through Art By Jorge de la Fuente
Rudolf Kohn was born in Bogota, Colombia in 1971. He began his first drawings at age 3 and his first apprenticeship at age 13 with David Manzur. Then went on to completing his degree in Art at Universidad de los Andes (1992), simultaneously, apprenticing with Augusto Ardila. Rudolf’s first exposition was at age 18 with Acosta Valencia Gallery, later with Galeria el Museo in Bogota, Colombia. Raised during political turmoil, Rudolf’s artwork is undeniably influenced by politics of the country.
His works are alive as satirical anecdotes, illustrating history past and that is yet to come. He creates from an expressionist inspiration blended with surrealism equating intense and dramatic, yet finely tuned conceptual pieces. Commenting on our world, our time, and the reality of society. Rudolf has several themed series of works, Vicharros (2002), Ozotron (2006), City of Love (2009), Guerreros del Espacio (Space Warriors) (2010), and Made in China (2013). Vicharros brings machines to life on the canvas to meet humans who have become machines. Kohn commonly depicts Vicharros as bicycles- the vehicle of our inner child that may free us from mechanical confines. Ozotron focuses on a futuristic super hero whose mission is to purify nature in order to enable survival of our species. City of love is unique through the multitude of eyes displaying the forever presence in all of what we may think is absence. Guerreros del Espacio shows the shaman’s work with universal energy, sacred geometry and medicines in relation to native traditions around the world. Made in China is a symbolic representation of the economic crisis and growing interdependence of the US with China. Rudolf Kohn artwork is commonly found in large format pieces using mediums of oil and acrylic on canvas, drawings, and most recently, stainless steel sculptures.
Rudolf arrived in Miami, Florida in 1992 starting his work as an artist resident at the Bakehouse Art Complex (BAC). In his new arrival he participated in group and solo exhibitions for BAC. From 1992-2015 Rudolf has been widely recognized and exhibited in Florida, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, San Francisco (McLoughlin Gallery), Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Colombia (La Pared Gallery). In Miami, choice exhibitions and galleries that have shown his work include, The Wintz Gallery at the first National Bank of South Miami ‘95, The Biltmore Hotel- Danielson Gallery ‘95, Galeria del Sol ’96. Several solo exhibitions at the Consulado General de Colombia in Coral Gables. The Bird Road art Connection (1997). Cultural Resource Center (1998). Rudolf featured a solo exhibition with the ‘City of Love’ at Miami Art Space in 2009. The Red Bull, Art of Can Exhibition 2010. Rudolf served as Executive Director, Curator, and featured artist for Burst Art Fair during Art Basel Week 2011. Kohn’s work was displayed at Americana (2013), Contemporary Caribbean and Latin American Art. He has participated in the annual ARTcycle events Seafair (2014) and in Coral Gables Museum 2014 and 2015. His sculpture was exhibited at the Frost Art Museum, Sculpture Garden (2014). Kohn sculptures have also been shown at the JF Gallery in West Palm Beach and the West Palm Beach Art fair (2014). Art Basel 2014 Rudolf was in a group exhibit showing paintings and sculptures at Praxis Architecture Space and is currently preparing for a group exhibition at MOCA for Art Basel 2015.
Rudolf has been covered extensively via media in the Miami Herald and the New Herald. Also, Loft Magazine, outside of FL in Art America, and publications in Colombia and Cancun, Mexico. Kohn has artwork in private collections in US, Europe, Colombia, England, Brazil and Dubai.