Lately I’ve been staring at the whorls of my old hardwood floors and seeing things. Sometimes this happens with nicks on the walls of my house, too. This is worrisome and likely related to the stresses of the pandemic. So there is some comfort to be had in looking at the paintings of Jeane Cohen, on display in a solo show at Zolla Lieberman Gallery in Chicago. From a distance, Cohen’s large canvases are colorful, chaotic, slightly terrifying abstractions full of blurs, bursts and whirlwinds. Up close they reveal not just virtuoso brushwork but unnoticed figurative elements: creeping rose bushes, a speckled fawn, a mysterious person, owls, a mourning dove, overcome angels. These inhabitants of Cohen’s pictures emerge from their brushy, excessive grounds as quickly as they recede back into them; blink and they’re gone. Has the pandemic brought on this constant threat of dissolution, or has it simply made the impending doom visible?
—Lori Waxman 2021-04-09 8:09 PM