Artist Profile

Tom Koken


Primary Medium

Drawing

Address

1155 Manhattan Avenue
5th floor
Brooklyn, 11222

Artist Statement

I use beauty and nature as starting subject matter, but not to make “beautiful nature artwork.” In particular, flowers are especially appealing. They encapsulate both of those themes, and in an almost cliche way are practically a default for subject matter—in other words, my MacGuffin. Partly because they are almost cliché; showing up everywhere–throughout art history, in the decorative and fine arts, in home decor, in public spaces... While dealing with the formal aspects of the picture’s surface I also explore its symbols and metaphors—both personal and more universal. Nature and beauty and their loss—the increasing disassociation and alienation—are general concerns. I am interested in systems, networks, connections and infrastructures—their strengths and vulnerabilities. I focus on the place where things hold up but threaten to fall apart, collapse or disintegrate—order confronting disorder. Starting with a section of an overall pattern that I manipulate to a place with just a whiff of recognition left, I add and add, mimicking the printing process but doing it all by hand, by drawing. I purposely run the risk overloading and overwhelming. Without resolution or answers, I want the work to inhabit the zone where the familiar is less so; where chaos confronts beauty; where opposites can exist simultaneously. I also question when and where something becomes too much of a good thing or just remains a whole lot of a good thing. By building up and repeating these elements, enhancement moves from calm improvement to obliteration. The works exist somewhere on this spectrum. I like the work to pull one in with some little hook, something familiar or recognizable but then hold the viewer there, suspended in a place without the expected easy comfort, answers or resolve.

Links

Website: http://www.tomkoken.com
Instagram: @tomkokenart