Paul Cowan hopes to short-circuit his viewers and challenge their understanding of paintings with his gentle ironies. His works resist quick judgment – the more you look the deeper your humorous speculation becomes. Cowan uses found fabrics as color fields ornamented by silver fishhooks, as in his 2015 piece Untitled, which presents a semiotic meditation: are we the lure or the bait? Cowan has had solo shows at L21 Gallery, Madrid, Kimmerich Galerie, Berlin, and Michael Jon & Alan, Miami.
Image rights: Courtesy of the artist and Michael Jon & Alan
About Paul Cowan
Paul Cowan makes painting-like objects that allude to and upend painterly conventions. Drawn from the worlds of commercial signage and fine art, his hybrid objects often feature enamel, rather than paint, applied to canvas. For one body of work, Cowan hired professional sign-makers to make simple gestures—squiggles, borders, and scalloped lines—in primary colors on his works' surfaces. Such marks, both utilitarian and painterly, question the boundary between functional and artistic painting. Other works involve monochromatic or patterned fabric in which the artist has attached a small fish hook. The glistening silver bauble attracts the viewer’s eye, serving as a literal and metaphorical hook—a prompt to consider the ways paintings ask for and command our attention.
American , b. 1985, Kansas City, Missouri, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin