Wyatt Kahn “Knots & Figures” at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Vienna

A syntax of irregular, disarticulated, and structured kinds typifies Wyatt Kahn’s three-dimensional wall operates, assembled into compositions as abstract as they are connotative. Take into consideration A Bar, wherever geometries of semi-round apertures, slash out of sq. enclosures, accumulate on a dense surface area, like seared-by way of coasters or 50 percent-empty eyeglasses still left in disarray on a countertop. Or Untitled (Him and Us), which reprises a motif familiar to Kahn’s lexicon―a vertical system articulated by the accumulation of a stack of skinny, rib-like bands at its core, amplified, wrapped, even embraced by rigid U-formed arms that lace around and below the principal ground. Anthropomorphizing metaphors come up effortlessly, as he playfully straddles the line between geometric abstraction and figuration, amongst painting and sculpture, all the though intervening in every category’s respective and entangled historic lineages and discourses. And then there are his titles: The Lady with Hoops, Acrobat. Kahn’s syntax, articulated in kind, is a grammar of symptoms inside which language, too, performs an significant role.

Consider Standing Bather, an assembly of vertical edged columns staging a accumulating of sorts—one that culls from the vast annals of art historical figures of the bather, only to render them right here, unadorned, uncooked, unmodulated, as mere evocation. The subjects in this sequence, hinted at regardless of the seeming abstraction of Kahn’s sorts, are deeply embedded in fields of reference spanning artwork historical past, but also the each day, the domestic, the individual, the imagined: Acrobat may perhaps gesture to Picasso’s 1930 titular portraits of adaptable figures contorting the human type into unbelievable postures, but it may well just as conveniently evoke objects as quotidian as the stage ladders in the artist’s studio and residence, to say practically nothing of the narrative opportunities that might occur from the conflation of both of those nouns. Kahn by no means completely casts out the issue alternatively, it may reappear only mainly because abstract geometries lend it new variety.

Certainly, as a result of his elaboration of the shaped canvas―a challenge he has undertaken due to the fact the commence of his artistic career―Kahn has taken a exclusive solution to pictorial considerations, refracted by a sculptural lens. If his work has advanced at the intersection of painting and sculpture, it has also, far more just lately, deliberately revisited both of those mediums as impartial fields in which to reenact and occasionally broaden on–the experiments carried out at their crossing. In “Knots & Figures,” a new sequence of oil paintings on canvas, elaborated alongside corresponding or related formed canvases, compress the latter’s dimensional engage in in just a solitary pictorial aircraft. In their intricate overlays of traces, forms, shades, and strokes, Kahn’s oil paintings are like aggregates of the additive and subtractive treatments that notify his wall will work, reverse-engineered to redeploy these functions in a purely pictorial sign-up. In this article, figure and ground hover and supplant one particular an additional fluidly, suspended at the surface area that both recedes and advances in depthless place. With these forms’ sculptural analogues in mind, for Kahn, painting can by no means reassume its static area as the medium of illusion, nor can it simply conduct as the medium of flatness.

Unsurprising, but undoubtedly not unremarkably, then, is Kahn’s embrace of superior-relief, nearly cost-free-standing sculpture in a new collection of small, cast bronzes. Whilst his sculpture has taken monumental dimension in his 2021 public performs commissioned for outdoor display, these new bronzes are less environmental than they are item-like, intimate, visceral even, in their literalization of the interior, official relationships evoked in his “flat” wall-hung will work. Endowed with volume and mass, these sculptures render airplane and line in space: thin serpentine strains come to be intestinal conduits knotted and wrapped around a central, supporting condition defined by good mass and cut-out voids. These are common staples of the artist’s visible repertoire resurfaced, or reconstituted as a lot more than, further than, surface―a transposition that, throughout mediums, components, supports, and substrates, adds yet yet another dimension to Kahn’s ongoing project.

Rachel Valinsky

at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Vienna
until finally December 22, 2022