The brush and the falling autumn leaves

On Einan Cohen’s Nature Paintings

Tali Tamir

At times, Einan Cohen’s brushstroke on the paper surface resembles the touch of an autumnal leaf falling on the ground: a soft, springy touch that retains an inner rhythm, and forthwith makes room for the next brush stroke.  Thus the brush stokes gradually cumulate, covering the surface, oblivious to a vertical regime of growth or sprouting.  Similarly, they disregard the physical orientation that gives hierarchical precedence to the head, leaving room to stretch the arms.  They clearly prefer to treat the sheet of paper as a soft bed or a field where one can stretch in all directions and trust their maximum capacity of containment.

Einan Cohen is a nature painter by nature.  The landscapes converses with him, whispers to him, scrapes together words and syllables for him, and he listens to its words and hears its murmurs.  Nature, for Cohen, is not a formal challenge as Mount St. Victoire was for Cezanne, nor a compositional challenge as the Tsuba Mountains were for the Israeli Zaritzky.  Nature for Cohen is intuitive attention that passes through the body, projecting thereon an intricate web of colors and hues, aligning all its sensors towards the inner strata, underneath the leave, where the rays of sun are refracted into a thousand splinters.

In Cohen’s paintings one can discern certain moments in the cycle of hours within a day and substances of nature: sunset and sunrise, winter and summer, sea and shore.  One can observe these paintings and feel wet or dry, chilled or warmed.  Nevertheless, Cohen forever leaves his viewers with the choice to experience as they please, without coercion; he refuses to provide them with clear footholds within his field of painting.  Despite the clear use of the term “color fields”, the paintings are not close in spirit to American Abstract Expressionism that brought into the world the greatest affinity between the painterly surface and the field of action.  Einan Cohen’s painting is too lyrical to approximate the active energies of American Abstract, and too intimate to belong in the classical tradition of European landscape painting.  Through a “Zen”-like mediation, while subduing the other voices, Einan Cohen continues to preserve in his inner gaze the abstract, sprawling natural being that is constantly in motion like water welling up, the falling of autumnal leaves, moving clouds, and the caressing wind.

2002