These nine oil paintings appear to have been executed as a kind of formal exercise. Behind a foreground, often placed in one corner, brush strokes of thin paint have been conglomerated over stretched white linen to recede in the most complex, energetic and ambivalent way—while still considering the painted surface as a whole.
There is no sense of a particular time and place, though landscape photographs appear to have been used as source material. Nor is there any kind of compelling emotion. What we get is nervous energy—many of the brush strokes resemble quivering neurons.
Overall, each piece feels pleasant, if detached. It does not compel the viewer to become emotionally or intellectually involved. But the details—oh, those details! As has been done to paintings over the centuries, future collectors may be tempted to cut up each canvas to create many smaller and more exciting ones. The artist’s imagination appears to have become more intense as she worked her brush into ever-smaller spaces. The power of her intention might even extend into the microscopic. The virtuosic swirl, splatter and drip of the paint present a cheerful, manic world of endless possibilities.
The work is upbeat and luminescent—like iconic Impressionist painting but with the formal elements having a life of their own instead of being mimetic of life as seen. This is high, meditative art. As judged by its apparent virtuosity and lively intensity—it succeeds. But if seeking some connection to the challenge of being human, nowadays or whenever—it’s relevant only to our cellular biology. There’s no suggestion of any social, spiritual or psychological struggle.
This is the artist’s first solo exhibition since her 2018 graduation from the MFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It is a tribute to that school, her remarkable ability and the gallery that recognized it. Jeane Cohen has shared the thrill of being alive. Now we have to wait and see what she does next. She seems poised at the edge of fear and wonder.