Wolf Kahn spends much of his summer sketching in pastel in and around Brattleboro, Vermont, later refining the sketches in his hilltop studio. BMAC is honored to present a portion of his summer 2011 artistic production.
Pastel is Kahn’s generative medium. I use the term generative not to imply that his pastels are sketches for paintings — though they may be. Rather, the mark a pastel stick makes, the way its powder sits on the page, its texture, its effects are the genesis of his painting style. Kahn has often referred to his painting technique as scrubbing: he makes dry, quick lines, atop thinly layered veils of color, essentially transferring his touch with pastel to paint. His virtuosic handling of the medium he calls “dust on butterfly wings” informs and expands all his artistic endeavors.
The pastels in this exhibit were selected to show a range of artistic concerns and technical sensibilities. Kahn’s art hovers between abstraction and figuration. Possessing an exceptional ability to discern fleeting atmospheric effects, he gives these effects presence in a two-dimensional world. His images are palpably about place, and yet they transcend mere description. For more than half a century, this modern master has balanced the sensuous qualities of color and light with a relatively stark geometry of form, giving free reign to complex investigations of perception and of place. –Mara Williams, Curator