The lights shone brightly along Naples storied Fifth Avenue last night, but the brightest shined on the chic new works of artist Andre Kohn.
Kohn’s 19th solo exhibition officially opened at Shaw Gallery of Fine Art with a three hour reception for the artist that saw a steady stream of collectors and art lovers push through the gallery’s glass doors. Some may have been attracted like moths to the light, but most were eager for a peak at the Russian-turned-Californian’s newest renderings.
In the internet age, when the vast majority of galleries maintain websites with photos of each artist’s works, it’s tempting for some collectors to make acquisition decisions based solely on a photo array or virtual tour of the artist’s works. Huge miscalculation. Kohn’s works are meant to be experienced, not just viewed.
Some of Andre’s works are as big as his talent, and gallery owner Barbara Shaw and her team have placed them strategically so that they greet you the instant you step inside. Rhyme (pictured at left) is life sized, Rhapsody on a Theme of Rare Bordeaux and Purple Gloves are five feet tall, and Cocktail Dress #38 stands at a height of four feet.
But even Kohn’s smaller, more tightly-honed compositions are overpowering. The powerful, expressive brushstrokes, deft use of the palette knife and liberal use of impasto conjure van Gogh, although Vincent confined his passion to motifs like starry nights, café terraces and sunflowers. Kohn is a student of the human form. More precisely, of the way we humans express emotion in tiny, idiosyncratic gestures and movements. Of an arm, hip or the simple tilt of the head.
Andre overwhelms the viewer in yet another way. For the most part, his paintings are monotones, studies in white, gray and muted flesh tones. And then he surprises, no astonishes with splashes of vibrant color that appear all the more bold in contradistinction to the rest of the work. Red umbrellas in One More Errand and Pour la Vie and red hats in The Personal Statement and Rhapsody on a Theme of Rare Bordeaux. Purple gloves, a dash of blue stripes in Robert Frost, red-striped legging in Dancing in the Rain.
You may have missed the reception, but don’t miss this show. These paintings are worth the drive, whether you’re commuting from Port Royal, Marco or Sarasota-Bradenton. There’s good reason Andre Kohn is collected on five continents.