I greatly admire him. He paints with unabashedly bright colors, and his subject matter is the landscape, which he usually simplifies into color fields or semi-geometric forms. I enjoy his work, and I admire his success.
His speech was titled “Six Good Reasons Not to Paint a Landscape”. It’s a humorous piece, because of course he paints landscapes. But he does raise good points about the problems inherent in this genre. It’s a very old genre, and people tend to think “everything’s been done.” Given all its drawbacks, he said, “to be a landscape painter is to be a perverse individual.”
Hooray for perversity! Or at least, perseverance. I think this world needs more contrarians. How boring if we all did the same thing.
He also claimed to be a “color junkie.” I loved that. He said, “As I get older, the blue gets bluer and the yellow gets more yellow.” He uses bright colors, he goes on to say, because “I want excitement, I want intensity.”
That really resonates for me. I’m happiest when my paintings seem to vibrate with the intensity of the colors.
I’ve heard it said that young, less mature artists tend to use bright colors. As artists grow and mature (that is, get better) they use subtler, more neutral hues. A lot of grey in a painting is supposed to be the height of restraint and artistry.
Well, not for Wolf Kahn! At a nice mature age, he continues to revel in the childlike glee of vivid colors. By his own admission, his colors are getting even brighter as he gets older. And I say, good for him!
And I hope, good for me too. Because I’m a color junkie too.