There are few visual artists working today, to my knowledge, whose means of expression range fluently across many mediums with soul-stirring, virtuoso effect. The American-born artist Jeff Cowen (now based in Berlin) embraces photography, action painting, collage, darkroom chemical magic, and direct physical engagement in his work to create sculptural effects on mural-size pieces, diptychs and triptychs that play with the very idea of light and form, and small original pieces that might originate in an unusual printing of a negative and then blossom or mutate to astounding results.
Cowen's large one-man show at VW Gallery in Berlin, which opened with an accompanying photobooklet invitation to the opening, feels like a stunningly curated museum show: a healthy dose of new, unseen recent work intermingled with representative pieces from the last decade. Indeed, VW is less like a commercial gallery than an art space open to the world, a vast street-level series of gallery rooms with pristine white walls, high ceilings, perfect lighting and welcoming atmosphere.
The presentation encompasses still life, nudes and landscapes; huge abstract “action-paintings” using photo paper, light, chemicals and paint; as well as ripped and torn scenes of beauty meticulously pieced back together with glue that catches the light like the gloss of old wounds on skin.
See this show in person if you have the chance — highly recommended.
— Jim Casper
Jeff Cowen – 24 January through 8 March 2014