Elsie Kagan
Medium: Painting and Drawing

Studio Location:
98 4th Street
Studio # 410

Email: elsiekagan@gmail.com

Website:: www.elsiekagan.net

Artist Bio:
Elsie Kagan is a New York City-based painter, originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work draws together divergent languages into conversation; currently, she pairs imagery and stylistic devices from Northern European 16th and 17th Century painting with a material-based approach to abstraction, creating visually dense and exuberant paintings. Kagan recently mounted solo exhibitions at the Mandell Center in Hartford, CT, and Rivington Design House Gallery, New York, NY, and as well as a two-person show at the Soapbox Gallery, New York, NY. Selected group exhibitions and curatorial projects include RushArts, Ground Floor Gallery, 440 Gallery, and Arts@Renaissance, all in New York City; Crane Arts, Philadelphia, PA; and Zilkah Gallery at Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT. Kagan's work has been featured in publications such as the Washington Post, Flavorpill, Art F City, the Brooklyn Record, Studio Visit Magazine, and Looking at Painting. The recipient of several awards and grants, Kagan most recently received a fellowship and grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and from the Sustainable Arts Foundation. Kagan holds an MFA from the Tyler School of Art and a BA from Wesleyan University, and is the founder of a large Parent Artist Network in Brooklyn.

Artist Statement:
My work is grounded equally in the history of representative painting and in contemporary concerns with materiality and surface. My explorations take as a launching point a historical genre --most recently the humble still life--and reinterpret the genre's language to probe its enduring resonance. How do its conceptual underpinnings, formal conventions, and compositional tactics relate to contemporary concerns and strategies of representation?

The still life work draws from the 17th century Northern European. I lived in Holland for a time during my childhood and there discovered painting; the quiet magic and palpable light of Golden Age paintings have always resonated with me. Three years ago, the still life recaptured my interest. I admire its false modesty and artificiality, the formal freedom it affords the artist within the confines of a shallow space and a vocabulary of domesticity. I began to celebrate still life, which has always occupied a rather low rung on the hierarchy of genres.

My work harnesses the power of pictorial space and surface presence, testing the line between representation and abstraction. Often large in scale, the work is physically active, corresponding with my arm span and the movement of my body. My other line of inquiry involves smaller compositions on panel ???intimate sketches that emphasize drawing and gesture as a counterpoint to the large-scale work. My pictures depict the delicate refraction of stems in water alongside gravity's power to drag color down a surface, the search for something to be real and alive but never change, and also that charged moment when paint is at once a smear and a cluster of blossoms.




All images and text copyright Elsie Kagan