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“Painting is slow in nature…There is a critical delay between a thought or sight and its translation into paint. It is in that delay, while the artist’s intention is channeled through the archaic technology of brush, pigment and oil, that interesting inaccuracies occur. There are the deviations from reality that express a personal subjective view. Then there are the deviations from intention that belong solely to the mysteries of paint.”
The first-person perspective is a device that fascinates Cohen as a painter. When the perspective of the body suggests that the partially-viewed figure is the viewer himself, there is, in Cohen’s words, “a very real sense of being in the painting” because the viewer is able to imagine himself as an active participant in the depicted scene. Cohen’s earliest experiments with this device manifested themselves as paintings of his feet, but soon expanded into portrayals of foreshortened limbs and even whole-body depictions. In Cohen’s mind, first person perspective is liberating and empowering because it transforms a painting into an experience, rather than simply an image.
One of Cohen’s major sources of inspiration has been the striding figure of Johnnie Walker, the iconic symbol of Johnnie Walker Scotch whiskey. Clad in a red coat, black boots, and tawny loves, Walker appeals to Cohen because he engages notions of time and elevates “the functional act of walking to a performative level,” always appearing to be in a brisk, yet cheerful hurry. The Johnnie Walker icon has been an outlet for Cohen to consider the power of advertising and to reflect on Walker as a symbol of ambition and crusading self-improvement.
Another predominant source of inspiration for Cohen has been nature, with landscapes featuring prominently in his artistic repertoire. According to Cohen, landscape painting compels the artist to confront a pressing issue – namely, how to approach natural beauty and what response that beauty should evoke in the spectator. Landscape painting also asks the artist to tackle problems of belongingness and sense of self. As Cohen observes, “The sublime beauty of the wilderness is one that we at once desire to be a part of and fear that we could lose ourselves within.”
Cohen has exhibited at several Pennsylvania venues, including a 2009 solo exhibition at the Rodger LaPelle Galleries in Philadelphia. He was a featured artist in the 2010 Elephant's Eye Bucks County Artist Studio Tour.
Alex Cohen, self-portrait. Courtesy of the artist.
Education and Training
George Washington University, Eliot School of International Affairs, 1999-2001
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 2001-2006
The University of Pennsylvania, BFA, 2005-2008
Connection to Bucks County
Cohen was born in Newtown, Pennsylvania and has taught locally at the George School. He also exhibits at the Hrefna Jonsdottir Gallery in Lambertville, New Jersey and Riverbank Arts Gallery in Stockton, NJ.
Artistic Community and Colleagues
Jan Lipes and Robert Beck of Bucks County are two of Cohen's artistic colleagues.
Elephant’s Eye Bucks County Artist Studio Tour, Featured Artist, 2010
Fight or Flight, Solo Exhibition, Rodger LaPelle Galleries, Philadelphia, PA, 2010
Solo Exhibition, Rodger LaPelle Galleries, Philadelphia, PA, 2009
Bucks County Herald, Monthly Art Columnist, 2008-present
Phillips Mill’s 79th Annual Art Exhibition, Solebury, PA, 2008
Art of the State of Pennsylvania, The State Museum, Harrisburg, PA, 2008
Juried Alumni Exhibition, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 2008
Annual Student Exhibition, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 2006 and 2005
Bucks County Art Exhibit, The Sellersville Museum, Sellersville, PA, 2005
2nd Prize At Cheltenham Arts Center 66th Annual Awards Exhibition, 2009
First Prize in painting, Getting the Hang of It, Art of the State of Pennsylvania, 2008
Honorable Mention, Sabbath Prize for Figurative Painting, Tip of My Tongue, Annual Student Exhibition, PAFA, 2006
2nd Place, Historic Yellow Springs Award for Landscape, The Quarry’s Long Solstice, Annual Student Exhibition, PAFA, 2006
2nd Place, The Wallace Cadwallader Landscape prize, Quilted Lot, Annual Student Exhibition, PAFA, 2005
Teaching and Professional Appointments
George School, Newtown, PA, Painting and Drawing Teacher, 2007-2008
Seeds of Peace International Camp, Otisfield, ME, Art Instructor, 2000-2003
Getting the Hang of It
The Spirit of St. Louis
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