Focus on Art
By Rob Mohr
–Amplifying Nature With Genteel Abstraction
Josef Albers, one of the great non-figurative painters of the 20th century, wrote, “Abstraction is real, more real than nature. I prefer to see with my imagination.” Seeing with his imagination, Ken Gosh’s intricate paintings, imbedded with dragonflies, roosters, and fish, come to life in abstract settings layered with texture and color. Ken’s art — informed by the broad reductionist landscapes of Richard Diebenkorn (1922–1993) and the sensual details of flowers painted by Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) — compresses his reactions to nature into simple, vibrant forms that capture the natural ambiance in ways representation cannot. His radical transformation of natural forms results in the creation of a rich organic world given life through distillation and the harmonic interaction of color, texture, pattern, and form.
When abstracting, the visual artist has to pull the viewer along with clues that reflect the artist’s intention. A rooster, fish, plant or a fruit, serves as a vehicle to carry the viewer into the world of ‘pure art.’ In contrast, non-figurative art offers no clues to help the viewer. The value of pure abstraction can only be accessed through the interaction of the visual elements. But, when an abstract painting is the result of observation of the natural world — something Ken does extremely well — the natural subject is integrated and intensified within an environment created by the artist. Both the perceived world and the imagined world are united to establish a visually exciting and satisfying work of art. (photo)
For example, in Ken’s painting of the carp, there are no clear boundaries within the abstract environment, Yet, his clues are sufficient to enable the viewer to suspend belief and easily enter a created world whose final form has little to do with realism. (Photo)
Like many artists at Lakeside, Ken has deepened his understanding of abstraction from nature by observing the rich iconography of indigenous Huichol artists. Bound up with rituals, Huichol art become a living reality that magically links the spiritual world to their community. In contrast to Ken’s aesthetic abstracting from the environment, Huichol works narrate the mythology and cosmogony of humanity’s relationship with the gods.
To achieve the clean, rich texture and pattern typical of his watercolor paintings, Ken first lays down watercolors that tend to bleed, and then overlays more stable, transparent colors. His practiced understanding of how each color responds enables him to keep the painted environment bright and clean. His richly textured paintings, filled, subtle changes in hue and intensity — their focus on beauty, make clear the contrast between Ken’s universally informed works and the magical, symbolic works of the Huichol.
The freshness and clarity of Ken’s paintings are only possible for artists who have developed great skill in the medium — which is why Ken is an excellent teacher for Lakeside artists who want to paint with watercolors.
“I am happy here. I take what I see and make it my own. My paintings are happy paintings.”
Ken Gosh continues to play an important role in the life of the art community at Lakeside, as a teacher, participant in local art groups and guilds, and as patron to those in need. His art, his efforts to broaden the Lakeside art community, and his support for local charities have garnered the respect of this writer. Enjoy seeing Ken’s paintings during the opening and receptions on November 16th and 17th from 11AM until 4PM at Galleria El Gallo — Guadalupe Victoria #30, Ajijic. Wine and hors d’oeuvres.