Nicelle Beauchene Gallery is pleased to announce Flat Top, its first exhibition with Chicago-based artist Alex Bradley Cohen.
In the portraits on view here, Cohen paints friends and acquaintances with a novelist’s mind and an expressionist’s eye. These paintings, most of which picture people in domestic settings, offer familiar and deeply personal accounts of their subjects. They are built from time spent, conversations, and camaraderie. While resolutely focused on capturing individuals, Cohen’s paintings also function collectively as a self-portrait. In telling these myriad stories, Cohen also tells his own.
Cohen finds meaning in people’s particularities, but his formal approach is expressionistic not exacting. The show’s title, Flat Top, makes reference to both the Def Jam era of hip hop and the modernist mandate to flatten space and abandon mimesis. The shapes of his figures recall Giorgio Morandi’s warbly vessels bedecked with David Hockney’s sartorial details while occupying Horace Pippin’s interior scenes. Cohen collapses space or stretches it out — furniture, limbs, and environment hum together. Moreover, in utilizing bold and saturated hues, Cohen’s vibrant palette pulls equally from Mary Heilmann, Bob Thompson, and the colors popularized by early 90s hip hop.