American artist Helen S. Cohen takes up the thread of Abstract Expressionism in her mixed media compositions. The scratched marks, diffuse washes, collage elements and broad brushstrokes fleetingly evoke landscapes and figures, but very quickly retrain our focus on the materials themselves. Fittingly, she cites the formal delights of the painting process as her main source of inspiration, informed by artists like Joan Mitchell and Cy Twombly — though Cohen’s influences seem to stretch further back as well. Yet her work remains vividly contemporary: each piece leaps to the fore, with graphite, collage and bold streaks of paint bursting through layers of acrylic wash.
The resulting compositions are as rich as they are unpredictable. Swooping lines and odd forms encounter more rigid geometric shapes; areas saturated with color diffuse into pale, watery expanses; jagged lines scraped into the paint give way to fragments of collaged patterns. Cohen’s organic and riveting conjugations of disparate formal strategies produce enduring works that testify to the pleasure the artist took in their creation.