LondonTwo Journeys. Bernard Cohen and Nathan Cohen
Flowers Gallery presents an exhibition of works by Bernard Cohen and Nathan Cohen, exhibiting together for the first time. The exhibition Two Journeys focuses on both father and son’s common quest for discovery through painting, where experience is translated through distinct forms and working processes.
Bernard Cohen’s paintings are recognised for their complex pictorial language, in which densely woven lattices of line, shape, pattern and colour are explored as a way of processing and recording lived experience. While Bernard Cohen’s paintings resist categorisation within any certain period or style, his work across six decades has been unified by formal attempts to discover and translate the full complexity of life, identity and the human condition.
His paintings take their starting point from simple underlying structural compositions, which divide the canvas into linear pathways and segments, such as crossed bars or architectural elevations. Superimposing intricate networks of lines, dots and planes of colour, with recurring figurative motifs such as doors, windows, aeroplanes, railway tracks and fragments of the human form, Bernard Cohen creates dizzying arrangements, within which an internal sense of order is revealed to the viewer gradually over time. Bernard Cohen says: “Two things preoccupy me; the painting I am making and painting in general (the subject of painting). In addressing these issues, each completed work is an attempt to understand a little of my world, as if for the first time. I cannot repeat what I have already found.”
Nathan Cohen’s paintings explore the nature of our relationships with phenomena in the world around us, and how this can be altered through images and physical interaction with space and visual form. He examines and reinvents the world we see through complex pictorial arrangements, using the picture plane as a surface upon which spatial reality can be rebuilt. The shaped paintings on view in this exhibition create illusions of space and depth, where planes may be perceived as simultaneously receding or projecting, allowing the viewer to journey both around and through the work.
Over the years, Nathan Cohen has worked using a range of media and technologies to engage with different aspects of perception and experience. He says: “How we encounter the world is essentially a very personal act and we do this in a way that is both knowing (based on prior experience) and questioning (open to new experience). In choosing to make an artwork I am seeking to explore both of these perspectives and in doing so one of the big challenges is how to make an illusion of space appear real and to find a way to make spatially comprehendible what is in essence an invention.”
ABOUT BERNARD COHEN
Born in London in 1933, Bernard Cohen studied at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1951-1954. In 1988 he was appointed as Slade Professor and Director of the Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London. Cohen came to prominence during the 1960s and has since exhibited widely. His first solo exhibition with Flowers Gallery was in 1998. In 2007 the gallery hosted Bernard Cohen: Paintings from the Sixties, focusing on an important period in Cohen’s artistic development, followed by Work of Six Decades in 2009, which celebrated his career by bringing together a selection of key works and the publication of a comprehensive book. A subsequent survey exhibition titled About Now: Paintings and Prints 2000-2015 took place at Flowers Gallery in 2015, accompanied by the book About Now by Ian McKay. Other important exhibitions include Artist in Focus, Six Paintings from the Tate Gallery Collection, The Tate Gallery, London in 1995; Stroll on! Aspects of British Abstract Art in the Sixties, Mamco, Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva in 2006; and Abstraction and the Human Figure at CAM’s British Art Collection, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon in 2010. Bernard Cohen lives and works in London. Ten of Cohen’s paintings are in the Tate collection, and his work is included in numerous public collections worldwide.
ABOUT NATHAN COHEN
Born in London in 1962, Nathan Cohen studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, and Chelsea College of Art. He has exhibited internationally for over thirty years, including one person and retrospective shows in the UK, Europe and Japan. In addition to his work as an artist his published writing embraces ideas about perception, abstraction and relationships between art and science. Between 1985-1990 he co-published and edited Constructivist Forum and from 1990-2010 co-directed ‘Archive 90: International Archive of Abstract and Constructive Art’, including curating exhibitions in the UK, Netherlands and Japan. In 2011 he established the first MA Art and Science at University of the Arts London, and is currently the Arts Research Director for an international Art and Science Research group, located in Japan, France and the UK. Nathan Cohen’s work is represented in public and private collections worldwide. He currently lives and works in London.