David von Bahr (b. 1992) has spent the last few years refining the aesthetic language he has been exploring since childhood through various modes of painting. Through a series of interrelated abstract canvases, brazenly sized larger than the artist himself, COGNITIVE PASSAGE acts as a bold mission statement for the artist’s future endeavours.
As a painter, von Bahr is direct and effective. He eschews drafts or outlines in favour of a direct meeting with the canvas where his motives take form through improvisation and instinct. von Bahr sees this bluntness as an intrinsic part of his work and sets up practical guidelines to enable this freedom. Abstract patterns, blocks of colour and scattered brush strokes are ordered into an intuitive framework shaped by the artist for the sake of efficiency and satisfaction. von Bahr interacts with the canvas in a self-described dance, the sheer size of it permitting him to move around it without hinder, rendering his process fully physically engaged. The paintings are deliberately “the size of a human being” to reinforce their presence and make them an active contributor in the exchange happening between them and the artist, as well as the observer.
This focus on movement is not only restricted to the process itself but is repeated in chosen mediums and motives. Paint is sprayed and dragged to create imagery that rightfully communicates the force that caused it. These bursts of paint are then scrambled and reworked into correlating yet distinct designs. In a lot of ways, von Bahr’s practice harkens back to modernist traditions. The physicality of action-painting and ordered abstractness of celebrated masters are present, by legacy and influence rather than direct appropriation. The outcome of his work is a thoroughly contemporary style of painting, permeated with reverence for the experience of art and creation.