18 June - 13 August 2022



Felipe Cohen’s first solo exhibition with Gaep features 13 new paintings from an ongoing series that expands upon his interest in the experience of light in nature, alongside six varied sculptural objects. Light – with its ability to create color and depth, to dematerialize the horizon through reflection, to emphasize shapes – has been at the heart of the artist’s inquiry over the past ten years. Cohen explores the dynamics between light, space and time by abstracting the landscape and by employing geometric forms. Still, his use of shape and color transcends geometric exactitude, imbuing the works with a poetic feeling.


Central to the artist’s practice is his approach to landscapes as physical entities. This is particularly prominent in Eyelids, the series of paintings that gives the exhibition its name. Each painting features a variation on the theme of intersecting circles – the dominant form in this series – and horizontal lines. All the elements interlock dynamically. The use of the same circular shape throughout generates a cumulative effect that is both a continuum between the works and a sense of reciprocation. As Cohen confesses, while working on these shapes he was reminded of “two eyes, with one eyelid open and the other closed”, and became captivated by the idea of a landscape gazing back at the viewer. Added to the initial intention of referencing sunsets in liquid horizons, the latter realization turns each work into a double instance of mirroring: the sun’s reflection on the water and the suggestion of being looked at while looking.


For these geometric yet atmospheric paintings, Cohen cites the strong legacy of Concrete and Neo-Concrete Art in Brazil as influences. Abstract in appearance, his ever-shifting formations of curved lines are rendered, nevertheless, in warm colors that evoke the natural world. They are the colors of the earth, the sun, the sea – and the skin – combined in an aesthetic organism indicative of the artist’s modus operandi: geometric abstraction rooted in external reality.


Working in series because he likes to “develop an idea in a modular fashion”, Felipe Cohen has previously explored the subject of the reflection of light, prior to Eyelids, in several series of display cases that bring together transparent and opaque materials characterized by various degrees of fragility (e.g., glass vs. wood) and by contrasting textures and weights (felt vs. marble). Two such objects, on view in the exhibition, use transparency and reflectiveness to create the impression of solid matter floating in the air. The optical effect serves, for instance, to conjure up a sunset over the sea, when the sun seems to touch the horizon and flow into the water.


Besides optical illusions, Cohen confronts the viewer with paradoxical scenarios in which the fragile protects the strong, and the ephemeral leaves its mark on the long-lasting. In a small work titled Cathedral #3, an everyday object – a wooden clothespin – embraces a piece of basalt, resulting in a structure that boasts the delicate verticality of a Gothic cathedral, while playfully subverting its dramatic force to draw the eye upwards. Similarly, in another sculpture, paper confetti seem to have eroded a more robust material; having carved a place for themselves in granite, they resemble archaeological vestiges. Just as he celebrates the evanescent effects of light on landscapes, Cohen imagines situations in which fleeting objects or materials defy their transitory nature.


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