Kuhn’s practice harkens back to eras when art was slowly crafted. His complex and intricate compositions, meticulously layered with drawings and oil paint, suggest a belief that a traditional approach to art must be mastered before moving into the experimental zone.
Obviously passionate about art history, within the first five minutes of chatting, Kuhn proposes that once oil paint was introduced to the Western world, “painting gets better”. Having grown up in a film-obsessed household, he started drawing at a young age. Yet he admits to having set his sights on improving drastically within the last year, “catalysed by exhibitions and readings”. Citing inspirations as broad as Gorky, Kusama and Kiefer he laments how in some ways modern visual art struggles to get an emotional response out of the viewer, as a result of the limited engagement of time and lack of narrative.
As a consequence, Kuhn takes his time with his work. He does multiple graphite drawings before even picking up a paintbrush, and readily admits to spending four to six hours mixing colours. Oil is his favourite medium due to its malleability and long drying time. The patience of the artist is visible in the work – meticulous colour palettes meet well-planned perspectives. Yet there is an energy to the brushwork that shows real skill. Kuhn’s talent lies in injecting a level of volatility and speed into an application that was, in reality, slow and precise.
I get the sense that Kuhn is merely at the beginning of a promising artistic practice – not only from his wealth of art knowledge, but also from the way he speaks about his hopes for the future direction of his work. He enjoys the spectacle and ambition of conceptual artists such as Ai Wei-Wei, and wants to inject more humour and imagination into his own compositions.
Refreshingly, Kuhn feels the need to train himself in traditional artistic methods. I will be interested to observe his evolution into more of a “fun” conceptual artist.
Follow his progress on Instagram.