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Artist's Reception: Steve Kahn at Joseph Bellows Gallery

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Friday, January 03, 2014

The Holywood Suites

Exhibition Dates: November 3 - December 8, 2012

Opening with the Artist:
Saturday, November 3
6:00 - 8:00 pm


Made in rundown apartments in the 1970's these images by Steve Kahn are charged through their void. Tension emerges in the work most immediately through the quality of the prints then through content in layers and time. The high-contrast of the prints flattens space, introducing an abstract quality, and a graininess further distorts perception. Images reduce but intensify our sensations, and each frame is both unsettling and gripping.

The Hollywood Suites breaks into two groupes- nudes and mirrors, windows and doors. One series fed into the next. Kahn had been working with porno industry models in the old Hollywood district of Los Angeles when the work began. The nudes are well done- direct confrontations reveal a moment that either offers a glimpse of the woman inside the shell of a body or the persona it wore, but when on one occasion Kahn's model didn't show he began photographing the rooms. In the nudes series the woman display themselves and try to be provocative, but more powerful works are images where Kahn employs fragmentation. In both types there is a lack of wholeness that agitates even if it seduces. The situations were "loaded," to use Kahn's words. He found that "By removing the extreme content, [he] could focus on . . . [the] environment for the ideas it embodied" (Bellows press release).

The mirrors, windows and doors works are heavy. The spaces become metaphors for the figures but expand beyond the specific story or situation the nudes engaged; they illude to poverty, desire, loss, and raise questions about the history of place. Complex and even cinematic-style narratives unfold in our minds as we wonder at the stain left by a missing mirror, the tear in a curtain, the boarded doors, and the false promise of serenity in the cheep art. Drama mounts and the unanswered questions do not stop coming.

The exhibition to be the first solo exhibition of Kahn's Hollywood Suites in San Diego. Kahn was part of an important generation of Los Angeles photographers that included Robert Heinecken, Ilene Segalove, and Jerry McMillan. In 1979 Kahn received the Young Talent Purchase Award from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the following year a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Kahn is represented in many collections, among them the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Bibliotheque Nationale, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Dallas Museum of Art.

For more information on the artist please visit Joseph Bellows Gallery

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