Cohn Studio

Victoria Donohoe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 12, 1996

Indonesia is artist Laura F. Cohn’s second home, where she lived five years. Java, the batik capital of Southeast Asia, is her special love. Cohn’s current show, “From Bali to Bala: New Inspirations from My Recent Journey,” certainly reflects that. The show, on view at her home and studio, features her own batik paintings plus Indonesian handcrafts.

Primarily from an academic background, Cohn has nevertheless painted for 20 of her 32 years. Figure painting in oil had been her mainstay until batik started her using the ancient process of hot wax and colored dye on cloth. Her resulting work combines the traditional and the new.

In the featured works – 18 new and 20 older landscapes, figure subjects and abstractions, all batiks – Cohn has retained a lush, gracefully broad technique.

At root, such work is about technique, because it pushes aside the question of what is happening and forces the question of how it is happening. Yet content exists in sufficient quality to hold in abeyance the question of how her expressive realism is achieved, letting us concentrate on the painting’s subject. Content in her work is technique.

The real strength of her paintings, one that can be grasped only through seeing them, is their sensuousness, their combination of energy and sensitivity. There is both passion and constraint here. These paintings have life and vigor, but warmth, tenderness and humility also come through.

In the electronic age, Cohn’s voice speaks quietly, articulating a new concept of beauty for the present era – human feeling expressed through a realistic/abstract means. This may be the most profound, most lasting characteristic of her art.

One of Cohn’s batiks is included in Fiberarts Design Book Five (1995). She intends this show to become an annual event, with workshops. She also plans batik workshops at schools.

The show continues to next Sunday at Laura F. Cohn’s home/studio, 431 Mary Watersford Rd., Bala Cynwyd. Hours are daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Telephone: 610-667-5071.

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