Jeane Cohen October 2020 Slag Gallery


Earth Slipped and Heaven Spilled


Every time I paint a flower I am surprised and yet I have been painting flowers since I began to paint. I do not restrict myself to flowers, of course there are many subjects in these works, but I am open to the return and the rawness of working with what I am drawn to in the moment.

Growth, nature, instability, transition, survival - these elements are all in the work. It is about symbols and foreverness. The horse, the flower, the gem, the pinecone, the angel. There it is in front of you, solid, strong, soaked in emotion or shelled into a rhythmic structure. It is about metamorphosis and shifting into and between multiple registers at once. The painting is holding itself and all of its fragments together, making beauty from their collision. It is traditional in that way. The beauty can be awkward, demanding, goofy, graceful, seductive and too sweet. It is beauty as a simple grasping at meaning making through pattern and form; trying to understand Nature through infinite diversities in the world that might be glimpsed.


Often my action is the object. Objects are gestures, marks, lines, scrubs, sweeps, daubs, screens, smudges and retractions. The actions weave together as visibly differentiated events and as objects transition indistinguishably, helped along by bold and regionalized colors. It is important to me that my surfaces have a sensitive memory to keep a sensitive record. Sometimes I think the paintings are like veils draped over the white of the canvas. That the painting is its own event, sometimes illusionistically integrated with the surface into deep space and sometimes appearing like a sticker and in agitation against the ground. Sometimes the ground rises up as a mark itself. This may be a technical projection, but I hold form in high regard - at the very least it is malleable and at its best articulation it is radical.


Animals adjacent to humans. They are like aliens and they are our family. They think and live differently but feel similarly. I think the animals help us to love what we cannot understand but may seem familiar, or what may be difficult to grasp. This challenge of holding fast is why my works look like they are emerging, coming together, forming recognizable moments, falling and breaking, all at the same time. They are almost shattered, faded or about to blow away. This is happening in the more abstract works too, where heaven is indubitably spilling out of itself, at impossible angles, or in works where there are competing fires splitting off from each other. There is the possibility of origins at these junctures in the paintings; fecundity springs forth. The environment is alive, the fires are alive, the marks and gestures are alive, adjacent with the animals and with us.


I am thinking about what it means to have a show at this moment in the world. I did not know these paintings would come to New York. I made them over the summer in solitude, in Maine. I would look up and see deer eyes in the road at night or the moon rising. I felt everything this summer. I hope these works are strong enough to hold.