Ezra Cohen, born in 1993 in New York City and raised in the neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, is a contemporary artist known for his large, vibrant abstract paintings. Through his uniquely informed approach to color and composition, Cohen strikes a masterful balance between chaos and control, between the delicate and the discordant. The artist explains: “The most attractive thing in art is contrast; the straight against the curve in basic geometry, large against small. The same goes for brush strokes: light and dark, thick and thin.”
At the age of 16, Cohen began studying under the artist Knox Martin at the Art Students League of New York. Martin ran in the circles of the New York School in the 1940s, having been part of the original Abstract Expressionist movement with contemporaries such as William De Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Jackson Pollock and Alfred Leslie. Cohen’s paintings channel elements of the iconic energy and freedom attributed to the Expressionists, while taking art itself, above all else, as their subject matter. As Martin’s teachings encouraged Cohen to explore art across time, the artist has turned to the works of earlier masters, from Titian to Matisse, for inspiration. “To be able to do it, point to it, and talk about it, you have to surround yourself with art and study everything—from the Ming Dynasty, Italian Renaissance, to the art of today ” Cohen explains.
Despite the chaotic and abstract nature of his paintings, each is a strikingly balanced work of art. Taking from a classical approach as executed by the ancient Greeks, Cohen begins each piece by applying the “golden ratio” to create a strategic plan in relation to the dimensions of his canvas. He then manipulates and pushes this formula beyond its normal confines through color, form, and texture while still maintaining a rational infrastructure. As such, the viewer is systematically led through a painted narrative, reading Cohen’s own exquisite and expressive visual vocabulary.
Cohen’s paintings have been exhibited in numerous New York art shows and open studios. In 2013, Cohen created a pop-up gallery, “Paint on Canvas” at Chashama Gallery 266. At what would be a sold out show, his works caught the public eye of collectors and curators. Today, Cohen has work represented in over 30 collections across the United States and Europe. In 2015, Cohen was awarded the Fantasy Fountain Fund Scholarship to attend an art residency at the Marchutz School in Aix en Provence, France. A member of the Art Students League of New York, he continues to study under Knox Martin, and shares a studio with his longtime mentor, artist Edla Cusick, in Hell’s Kitchen. Cohen has studied at NYU in the Visionary Studio Program as well as at The Fashion Institute for Technology. He is also cofounder of Work in Progress, a collective of New York City based music, video and visual artists.
Todd Merrill Studio, known for exhibiting contemporary design and art that is both material driven and historically referenced, is pleased to introduce Cohen’s large-scale paintings to the gallery’s Studio Contemporary program for the 2016 Southampton Summer Gallery.