Alex Bradley Cohen
New York, 327 Broome St
Cohen utilizes portraiture to visualize the push and pull of identity and interpersonal relationships. Working with acrylic paint on canvas, the artist depicts friends, family members, and himself in scenes that foreground everyday moments. The intimacy between Cohen and his subjects is clear: friends appear across a shared lunch table, relaxed in their living rooms, or playing a game of chess. Materializing from personal photographs and memories rather then direct observation, each painting serves as an exercise in world building, while emphasizing the interiority of his subjects.
In Personal Space, Cohen renders his portraits with bright flat colors, visible brush strokes, and distorted perspectives that provide flexible entry points into in each work. Keon and Kamau, 2019 and Shai-Lee Horodi, 2018 exemplify Cohen’s ability to muddle the divide between abstraction and figuration. In these paintings, bold planes of color work in tandem to imply the interior space around the figures they encompass. A quadrant of colors envelops Shai Lee across the plane of a table; the flat yellow of Kamau’s outstretched arm and the brushed purple of his leg intersect a space of light and dark green. Cohen’s abstraction becomes a narrative device in the construction of space around his subjects, highlighting the interdependence of each figure and their environments. Bridging foreground and background, his colors and forms build out space for earnest connectivity and reciprocity.