A syntax of irregular, disarticulated, and structured kinds typifies Wyatt Kahn’s three-dimensional wall works, assembled into compositions as summary as they’re connotative. Think about A Bar, the place geometries of semi-circular apertures, lower out of sq. enclosures, accumulate upon a dense floor, like seared-through coasters or half-empty glasses left in disarray on a countertop. Or Untitled (Him and Us), which reprises a motif acquainted to Kahn’s lexicon―a vertical physique articulated via the buildup of a stack of skinny, rib-like bands at its core, amplified, wrapped, even embraced by inflexible U-shaped arms that lace over and beneath the first floor. Anthropomorphizing metaphors come up simply, as he playfully straddles the road between geometric abstraction and figuration, between portray and sculpture, all of the whereas intervening in every class’s respective and entangled historic lineages and discourses. After which there are his titles: The Lady with Hoops, Acrobat. Kahn’s syntax, articulated in type, is a grammar of indicators inside which language, too, performs an vital function.
Take Standing Bather, an meeting of vertical edged columns staging a gathering of kinds—one which culls from the huge annals of artwork historic figures of the bather, solely to render them right here, unadorned, uncooked, unmodulated, as mere evocation. The topics on this sequence, hinted at regardless of the seeming abstraction of Kahn’s kinds, are deeply embedded in fields of reference spanning artwork historical past, but additionally the on a regular basis, the home, the private, the imagined: Acrobat could gesture to Picasso’s 1930 titular portraits of versatile figures contorting the human type into inconceivable postures, however it could simply as simply evoke objects as quotidian because the step ladders within the artist’s studio and residential, to say nothing of the narrative prospects which will come up from the conflation of each nouns. Kahn by no means altogether casts out the topic; as a substitute, it would reappear solely as a result of summary geometries lend it new type.
Certainly, via his elaboration of the formed canvas―a venture he has undertaken because the begin of his creative profession―Kahn has taken a novel strategy to pictorial considerations, refracted via a sculptural lens. If his work has advanced on the intersection of portray and sculpture, it has additionally, extra just lately, deliberately revisited each mediums as impartial fields inside which to reenact and sometimes increase on–the experiments carried out at their crossing. In “Knots & Figures,” a brand new sequence of oil work on canvas, elaborated alongside corresponding or associated formed canvases, compress the latter’s dimensional play inside a single pictorial aircraft. Of their complicated overlays of strains, kinds, colours, and strokes, Kahn’s oil work are like aggregates of the additive and subtractive procedures that inform his wall works, reverse-engineered to redeploy these operations in a purely pictorial register. Right here, determine and floor hover and supplant each other fluidly, suspended on the floor that each recedes and advances in depthless house. With these kinds’ sculptural analogues in thoughts, for Kahn, portray can by no means reassume its static place because the medium of phantasm, nor can it merely carry out because the medium of flatness.
Unsurprising, however actually not unremarkably, then, is Kahn’s embrace of high-relief, almost free-standing sculpture in a brand new sequence of small, forged bronzes. Whereas his sculpture has taken monumental dimension in his 2021 public works commissioned for outside show, these new bronzes are much less environmental than they’re object-like, intimate, visceral even, of their literalization of the interior, formal relationships evoked in his “flat” wall-hung works. Endowed with quantity and mass, these sculptures render aircraft and line in house: skinny serpentine strains turn into intestinal conduits knotted and wrapped round a central, supporting form outlined via optimistic mass and cut-out voids. These are acquainted staples of the artist’s visible repertoire resurfaced, or reconstituted as greater than, past, floor―a transposition that, throughout mediums, supplies, helps, and substrates, provides one more dimension to Kahn’s ongoing venture.
at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Vienna
till December 22, 2022