JEFF COWEN. PHOTOWORKS
Date: SEPTEMBER 1 — OCTOBER 24, 2021
Venue: MMOMA, 25 PETROVKA
The Moscow Museum of Modern Art together with the MAP Collection, Eric Schlosser and Michael Werner Kunsthandel present a solo exhibition of the American photographer Jeff Cowen, the first to be held in Russia.
The major solo exhibition at MMOMA includes more than 170 selected works — blurry, hazy frames, abstract collages, twilight landscapes which illuminate Jeff Cowen’s artistic practice. Having developed his own principles and techniques for working with the material surface of an image, Cowen, with adamant aestheticism, turns to the archeology of the dreams, to the shadow images of otherworldly spaces, ruins, and mirages, revealing the key themes and plots of the artist’s work. Cowen’s portraits, which have a supernatural radiance, tempt the viewer to identify personages from the plays of Henrik Ibsen or the stories of James Joyce rather than our contemporaries. Inaccessible, distant, these characters only enhance the theatrical, staged — or even cinematic — atmosphere of timelessness inherent in Cowen’s individual mythology. Another feature of it is a special aspect of incompleteness that is always singled out and emphasized by the author himself as one of the most important — the constant process of transformation, the semi-magical metamorphosis of an occasion into an event.
Strokes, stains, paper tears — in the sum of these techniques, it is easy to identify the echo of Abstract Expressionism and, at the same time, the inheritance of the hermeticism of alchemical practices. Beginning as a street photographer and assistant to Ralph Gibson and Larry Clark in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Cowen (born in New York City in 1966) subsequently embraced a radically different type of artistic practice — complete rejection of documentation in favor of formal experiment. In the darkness of the darkroom, he explores the effects of various chemical compounds and substances, and plays with the textures and plastic expressiveness of printing as such. The handicraft, almost artisanal nature of his work creates a special impression.
Following solo museum exhibitions at Ludwig Museum in Koblenz, Germany; Huis Marseille, Museum of Photography, in Amsterdam; and at the Museum of Modern Art in Tbilisi, this large-scale exhibition — demonstrates that his photographs exist at the intersection of photography and painting, collage and object. All of these works, in one way or another, are associated with the dream of a sublime experience, mystical insight, the ecstasy of revelation, and the privilege of vulnerability, like artifacts, souvenirs, testifying to impressions — real or imagined — on a long journey.
A comprehensive catalogue will accompany the exhibition.
About the Artist:
Jeff Сowen (New York City, 1966) is based in Berlin. He graduated from New York University (1988), Waseda University (1987) and studied at the Arts Students League of New York and the New York Studio School (1994-1996). Between December 1989 and January 1990 he witnessed and photographed the Romanian Revolution in Bucharest. He has lived and worked in Berlin, Tokyo, Paris and New York City. Artist’s solo and group shows were held at Paris Photo at the Grand Palais (Paris, 2013), Ludwig Museum (Koblenz, 2016), Huis Marseille, Museum for Photography (Amsterdam, 2017), Michael Werner Kunsthandel (Cologne, 2018), Galerie Wilma Tolksdorf (Frankfurt, 2019) amongst others. He was part of the Photo Biennial, curated by David Campany, at Wilhelm-Hack Museum (Ludwigshafen, 2020) In 2021 he received the Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant for his Provence project.
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