a lumine motus Moved by light etching, 2015, 5" X 5"
Brian D. Cohen – Emblems
September 22 – October 23, 2016
You are cordially invited to the opening reception with the artist
Sunday September 25, 1-3pm
C.X. Silver Gallery, 814 Western Avenue, Brattleboro.
The exhibition is open daily by appointment · Inquiries (802) 257-7898 · firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian D. Cohen has created a series of etchings based on Renaissance emblems, presenting familiar elements and objects in association with Latin aphorisms and English translation. The Renaissance emblem book employed familiar elements and scenarios in association with a common saying, intended to invoke associations and meanings with a particular lesson in mind. The physical is presented in order to reveal the spiritual, the metaphysical, the abstract, and the symbolic. The reader/viewer of this book is invited to construct significance from the often unpredictable and contradictory friction of text and image; in that gap is a tension that challenges and engages the viewer, much as it confounds and provokes him or her. This work is about the process by which we see, acquire, and possess things, and what they mean to us, in their variety and complexity, beauty and presence.
For Cohen, “the most important things to us stand quietly apart from the world, take us away from it, then recall us to the world, mirror it, model it, intensify it, and reflect it. The unique object is indispensable, irreplaceable, and irreplicable. What do we see in it? Certain things become projections of images, ideas, and analogies. We don’t see the ‘thing;’ we see what it makes us see. Art historian James Elkins says: ‘No two people will see the same object; we change along with the object, we see a new experience…A picture is the ways and places it is viewed, and I am the result of those various encounters.” Cohen savors what Elkins has described as “the perception of the “betweenness” of objects rather than their ‘thingness.’ “ Cohen sees this betweenness as a numinous layer.
“Things do not carry within them intrinsic meaning. We can watch ourselves attach this meaning, in slow motion. Naming objects shortcuts our visual experience, and I want to prevent this from happening. You recognize the object, but you are forced to look more closely as your interpretation of the object is confounded, challenged, elaborated by the text. … I make images that give you a chance to reflect on what the world is about. I want to create images that viewers will take time to contemplate, that satisfy a desire for detail, presence, and fullness, with strong iconic shapes and resolved compositions.
I work on as many as 30 or more etchings at once. The process of etching is physical and elemental, requiring force and pressure, inviting aggression and then delicacy, conjoining fire, water, earth, and air. There is something about setting an image into metal that implies permanence, duration, and enduring presence, and I hope my images mirror the medium in that sense.
I embrace themes of loss, futility, destruction, and unexpected, redemptive beauty, themes tied to the tradition of printmaking, whose imagery has always tended toward critical commentary and serious contemplation, and often toward humor and irony as well.
Brian D. Cohen is an educator, artist, and writer. He was graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude with high honors from Haverford College and completed his Master’s degree in Painting at the University of Washington. In 1989 he founded Bridge Press to further the association and integration of visual image, original text, and book structure.
As a printmaker, Brian has shown in forty individual exhibitions, including a retrospective in 1997 at the Fresno Art Museum, and has participated in over 150 group shows. Cohen’s books and etchings are held by major private and public collections throughout the country, including Yale, Harvard, Brown, and Stanford Universities, Middlebury, Smith, Wellesley, Swarthmore, and Dartmouth Colleges, the University of Vermont, The New York Public Library, The Library of Congress, and the Philadelphia and Portland (Oregon) Museums of Art, as well as the United States Ambassador’s residence in Egypt. Brian was the first-place winner of major international print competitions in San Diego, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC., was awarded the Best Book in Show at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Fair, and has received grants from the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Community Foundation.