Washington D.C. native Craig Cahoon’s latest series, “Apparitions”, combines several layers of transparent paint, often iridescent in quality, reduced to a minimal, geometric shape. Related to the prehistoric petroglyphs and goddess imagery, Cahoon relives sensations and memories while engaging in formal investigations of composition and materials. Painted on Mylar, flakes of mica suspended in the paint receive the light waves and bounce them back, out of phase. This refraction allows the hues and tonalities of the painting to shift, depending on the angle of light and the position of the viewer. “These paintings have allowed me to expand my fascination with the material world while being a spiritual pursuit, a meditative practice and a link with the past,” explains Craig Cahoon. The multiple transparent layers of paint correspond to the many-layered stories retold in color and its relation to light.
“The evolution of my painting has made significant leaps during residencies at art centers and colonies, both in the United States and abroad. I prefer observing the ambient light and colors of a new place over an extended period and responding to that experience through paint. I consider myself a process painter, with each unique experience and technique adding to the previous responses.
I prefer observing the ambient light and colors of a new place over a long period and responding to that experience through paint. Startling polychromatic wooden statues grabbed my attention in Slovakia while staying with relatives in 1985. Those figures became the seminal subjects of a lengthy painting process, which eventually evolved into more minimal geometric abstractions. The magical realms of my dreams led me to explore pre-historic petroglyphs, and later, goddess imagery. A residency in France in 1989 dropped me into the midst of a sun-bleached, abrasive landscape that I translated into both heavily textured color-field paintings and brilliantly reflecting multi-canvas works.
In some paintings I synthesize the imagery into minimal shapes incised into the wet paint or drawn with Conté crayon. I arrange blocks of color to depict architecture and landscape. Gestures of the brush and knife are more or less visible, evidence of how quickly the paint is absorbed and dries on the canvas or paper.
Through the process of painting I relive sensations and memories, delve into archetypal imagery, and engage in formal investigations of composition and materials. The multiple transparent layers of paint correspond to the many-layered stories that are retold in color and light. Painting has allowed me to expand my fascination with the material world while being a spiritual pursuit, a meditative practice, and a link with the past.