Joana Kohen’s series of new paintings shifts between attachment and alienation. The drawings, acrylics on paper made by the artist, depict faceless, gender-switching figures, floating in blank, opaque spaces, often in the presence of plant-like SCI-FI creatures. In a second set of works on textile, Kohen drifts even further away from human features and surrounds her figures with completely abstracted objects.
The uncanny sensation these works stimulate is difficult to ignore. The enigmatic figures seem at once both intimidating and harmless; both dangerous and in-danger. Kohen’s works examine human estrangement as well as our fascination with the things that frighten us. It is with these anonymous, hybrid figures that she enters a realm that is between the ancient and the futuristic, where her dialectic web of associations is driven by desires and fears. Kohen examines her body similarly: the primordial, reproductive function of her body is reexamined and subverted by its destructive potential, allowing carnivorous plants and reproductive organs to become interchangeable. This ambivalence is portrayed in the fragility of the works, all seem to be eternally in process of becoming, never resilient enough to be completely finished. Kohen’s manipulations hold them intact; the artist subtly handles the works, as if layering emotional reactions upon the fabric and paper.