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Renee Kahn | rkahnhnpp@optonline.net

People frequently ask me where I get ideas for paintings. I tell them “the supermarket,” meaning the supermarket as a metaphor for life. I enjoy looking at nature, but nothing inspires me like real people with their lumpy bodies and ill-fitting clothes. I have thousands of images in my head and they fight to get out. All those years of staring at people in restaurants on the street, at meetings. I draw everywhere, especially where people have their real selves on view... where money is involved, or lust, or power. I don’t see humanity as “ugly,” I just see it in the tradition of social satirists throughout the centuries.

I never plan a work in advance; I don’t do preliminary sketches, in fact, I don’t even like to preconceive a theme. I let the subconscious take over and determine what happens. I never know in advance what will appear on on the canvas. That’s the fun of it, not knowing what is stored in my visual data bank. I often run into my subject matter after the fact. My children used to point and whisper, “Mom, she looks just like one of your paintings.” It’s the old story of art creating life, rather than the other way around.

What I do is not caricature. Caricature is a relatively shallow bag of tricks. I consider my work “satire,” answering to the higher calling of “art.” People always ask me to describe my work. I wish I could answer simply: “I do watercolors of flowers,” or I do “colorful abstractions.” A reviewer once described it as “cubo-expressionist,” and that’s close, but if you were going to be totally accurate, it’s “cubo-expressionist satire with surrealist elements.” That’s what happens when you teach Art History for so many years!

You can read whatever you want in my work. I drag images from my unconscious and juxtapose them in surprising ways (surprising to me too). I like to get different interpretations from viewers. Who are all these guys and what are they doing? Am I making fun of them or am I just painting what I see?

Renee Kahn is a graduate of the High School of Music & Art and the City College of New York where she received her B.S. and M.A. degrees. She taught Art History at the Stamford Campus of the University of Connecticut for over twenty-two years. Her art work has been exhibited throughout the northeast in close to one hundred solo and juried shows. Kahn is a founding member of the Loft Artists Association which began in the Yale & Towne Lock Factory in the South End of Stamford. She presently works out of her studio in North Stamford.

Please feel free to contact me directly at rkahnhnpp@optonline.net