May 23rd 2014

Linda Warren Projects is pleased to usher in the spring season with solo exhibitions by gallery artists William Eckhardt Kohler in Gallery Y and Judith Mullen in Gallery X. Kohler, a painter, and Mullen, a mixed media artist, share an affinity for drawing upon their experiences of the world around them, as they are both avid travelers and keen observers. For Kohler, a move to New York has injected structure into his intuitive painting practice, while Mullen’s traversing between urban and rural environments prompts an investigation of the way in which humans interact with the natural world.

In “Portals, Passages and Vessels,” William Eckhardt Kohler presents a new body of work that constitutes an aesthetic breakthrough in his picture-making. Those familiar with Kohler’s long painting career will immediately note that the fragmented images, taped-off lines and geometric forms are in sharp contrast to the fluid, harmonious nature paintings of his past oeuvre. According to Kohler, the artist’s almost-full-time relocation to New York City has opened his eyes to the spirit within the manmade that he never before recognized. The windows, doors and buildings, along with the multitudes of paintings in Kohler’s studio, as well as those made by others on the walls of galleries and museums of the metropolis, are the basis for the artist’s new foray into more complex, layered imagery and space.

Kohler explains that the emphasis on the taped-off edge comes as a result of his “skepticism about relying on impulse.” The sure-handed intuition that has guided Kohler’s practice for over 30 years gets a jolt of new life through this “denial and cancellation of that organic natural movement…a restraint [that] paradoxically provides a greater freedom.” Accompanying Kohler’s new oil paintings are a selection of collage works featuring material sourced from the artist’s own works on paper. Here, trial runs and previous thoughts get rethought and recomposed into a less representational depiction space that nonetheless feels even truer to life.
Where the urban environment motivates Kohler, the natural world is at the forefront for Chicago-based artist Judith Mullen. The artist’s regular treks through the forested areas outside of the city provide for her an endless trove of inspiration. Away from the constant barrage of information that constitutes our contemporary urban lives, Mullen discovers and isolates aesthetic moments and naturally occurring compositions. In an effort to tap into the state of mind she occupies on her wanderings, Mullen recreates that contemplative solitude in a studio that is devoid of technological distractions.

In “A Good Wander,” Mullen has taken hold of the tree and all of its symbolic associations. The tree and its byproducts: bark, wood, branches, sawdust, paper, cardboard and glue are combined with materials like Styrofoam, paint, and resin, their commingling highlighting both the similarities and the differences between the natural and the manmade. Works like Afoot VII and Afoot I recall the patterns of debris that gathers and swirls in slow-moving water, or the sticks, leaves and evergreen needles that amass as the wind weaves amongst tree trunks in a forest. Mullen’s works remind us of the chance instances of beauty continually manifesting in the natural world just beyond our hi-tech one.

William Eckhardt Kohler is a Chicago and New York-based painter whose work has been exhibited in such venues as White Box Gallery in New York, Rebecca Hossack Gallery in London, Elder Gallery in Charlotte, NC, the Beverly Arts Center, the University Club, and Aron Packer Gallery in Chicago, amongst many others, as well as an upcoming fall exhibition in the Project Space at Brian Morris Gallery, NY. Kohler received a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art and an MFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This is Kohler’s third solo exhibition with Linda Warren Projects.

Judith Mullen is a Chicago-based artist whose work has been featured throughout the country including Riverside Art Center in Riverside, Il; Lois Lambert Gallery, Santa Monica; Porter Contemporary, NY; Krasl Art Museum in St. Joseph, MI; Noyes Cultural Art Center, Evanston, IL; Governors State University, University Park, IL; and the South Bend Museum of Art amongst many others. Mullen has been the recipient of such prestigious honors as the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, the Vermont Studios Fellowship and an Ox-Bow Professional Artist Residency. Mullen received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This is Mullen’s third solo exhibition with Linda Warren Projects.

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