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Mona Kuhn’s “Acido Dorado” Sep 19, 2014   Art, NYC, Photography

On Fifth Avenue the light was particularly strong, the shadows tripled as the light of the sun was not just direct but also reflected off the facades of the buildings, so purposefully. Tourists took pictures of tourists taking pictures. So many had come here to experience something meaningful and special. At the Apple store, barriers organized the massive groups of people into a single line, a caterpillar hungry to devour as many new little boxes of iPhone6 as possible. A new device, with new cameras, faster, more powerful, more automated, for more pictures of pictures of pictures. Each one of the humans waited to give meaning to an object whose intelligence only came to life when connected to someone or something. Life through context.

On the fourth floor of the 745 5th Avenue the skeletons of two saber-toothed tigers, with their fangs painted silver, tried to attack each other in mid air, suspended on thin transparent threads. “Semi Feral”, by E. V. Day was on display at the Mary Boone gallery.

The shadows were as fascinating as the sculpture.

I was here for a different reason. I wanted to see the colors of the light at the Edwynn Houk Gallery. Mona Kuhn had brought her work “Acido Dorado” to the gallery. The palette of this new sequence is warm and dry and yet filled with genuine life and an almost liquid emotion. The selected pieces range from the almost entirely abstract, to still life, to very nude (yet never naked). All beautiful, and all seemingly captured in the golden moment when the desert turns into a place that is filled with lucidity, rather than being a place lacking anything. The layering of the images and the juxtapositions of shapes were rather excellent again. My favorite pieces were not clear but intersected, the inside the outside the vastness and the intimacy embracing each other in a perfectly choreographed dance.

Acido Dorado, a seemingly magical location by Robert Stone is one of the dancers here. The other main character is obviously Jacintha, the beautiful model present in many of the photographs.

The work is contemporary as it is timeless. The calmness is an element of it, but so is a certain mystery, a certain interconnectedness, reflections; many reflections actually. Some of them manage to be stronger than the seemingly main layer of the image. They have turned into virtual veils; they protect the intimacy the privacy of sand, skin and sky. A good photograph is often defined by the things it does not show, as much as by the ones it shows. And Mona Kuhn has somehow managed to place herself in the relationship of all the moving elements to create mysterious spaces, ephemeral and yet now preserved in black frames, and presented at sizes that are not small, and yet never overwhelming. The images seem aware that they will be spending time with humans.

My favorite pieces reminded me of the passage of time and objects and elements and life. A body shape placed into what could be a series of film-strips or columns with elements of reflections of the desert. A woman touching her hair and the clouds, with both invisible hands, in a more than classic pose, the sand, the plants, the architecture, they all need to be here to make this very image. Which one of them is the most mysterious? And which one will still be here when all the others have moved on to become something different? What do they all have in common? Aren’t they all somehow following the same rules, at different speeds? (AD6309, 2014)

And then, in a smaller room, a shape so stark, the blackness of the shadow, almost like a giant monochromatic Elsworth Kelly piece. The sky turned into color and texture now, and vegetation, as much as the rest of civilization, become footnotes. What might look like straight lines perhaps actually is not. If only we manage to place three points anywhere here, then we should be aware of the curvature of the universe, the shapes, the everything we see and do not. (AD6365 2014)

All of these images have obviously been created as part of a larger journey, the journey of discovery and intuition, selection and determination. Beauty is the result of the intersection and layering and reflections of countless curved surfaces and volumes. And all of these become a bit clearer when enough time is spent in those rooms on the 4th floor of a building on 5th Avenue.

To be honest, it was not until I left the exhibition that I noticed the triple shadows on Fifth Avenue, and it was not until after I left it that I noticed so many more reflections and colors and movements. I stood in the doorway of the building for a while and measured the light of the world passing by through various filters. I was now more aware of the shifts of brightness, the shapes of the edges of things and ideas, the voices and the sounds of Fifth Avenue. I saw more in the living intentions passing by me, talking to others, or heading to a place where they would.

That’s one of the ways good art should move one inside. It should shift something, and open something. And so it apparently did. And I am thankful for that.

Mona Kuhn’s “Acido Dorado” at the Edwynn Houk Gallery is on view from September 11th 2014, through October 18th.


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