Reader review: Artist finds beauty from chaos


August 15th, 2012

Omaha, NE – Artist Kim Reid Kuhn finds beauty from chaos in RNG Gallery’s Sophisticated Beasts exhibit.

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Candy canes eating fish bones, bloody cocktails dancing, pink cauliflower engulfing a black bird…you want to keep looking, figure out the story, solve the puzzle, but in the gaping abstract expressionist paintings of Kim Reid Kuhn, the solution is in the search.

In Sophisticated Beasts, at RNG Gallery through September 2, Kuhn’s eleven mostly large, wall dominating pieces reel you in and force you across each curiously grotesque and striking canvas or panel.

“Amusements” mixed media on wood, 2012, Kim Reid Kuhn

From the start with Amusements, mixed media on wood, viewers are instantly entranced into her peculiar illusions—is that a mouse sneezing a blowfish swimming toward a finger bone, pointing to an anatomically human rat? Shapes become figures become moods become directions become frustrating become beautiful.

Her palette of pastels and black reign in most of her work, pulling it together with fierce strokes and bright red scribbles intensifying the scene.

Her furious passion is perhaps most powerful in the enormous floor-to-ceiling piece, Tally, engulfing the east wall. Pink hands grip something unknown as fish eat the same, blood surrounds as bones dance and mosaics weave in and out, the whole scene a digestion of sorts. The perspective is enhanced by the reflections of the mixed media piece on the glass doors hung from the ceiling. Its unclear whether this was purposeful or not, as the doors are the gallery’s décor, but the result multiplies the haphazard affect of the work, captivating.

“Sophisticated Beasts,” mixed media on wood, 2012, Kim Reid Kuhn

On the south side, small pieces hide out showing off her wavering moods. Exposure, the darkest in the room, features four black profiles heading in the same direction, away from an intricate map of smaller and smaller and smaller dots, dashes and strokes. The piece seems to challenge viewers to find something, but whatever, again is impossible, and reminds of us of the struggle to find the unknown.

Happier toned pieces such as Hard Pills and The Failure of Breeders use large solid, bright hued shapes to emit the artists’ more playful side of the struggle. Still full of her wandering strokes and mysterious forms, she pulls the viewers back to the bigger picture with the large solids of turquoise and red.

The show’s namesake, Sophisticated Beasts is perhaps the most different of the bunch. A prominent snake with teeth and eyes eats its own rattle tail, playing again with an animalistic point of view. Her large trademark strokes, red scribbles and black weaving dashes and swirls with pinks, turquoise and yellows show your eye around the wood panel, which she also leaves bare in some areas.

As in the rest, the composition is flawless; if one were to take a snapshot from just about any block of Kuhn’s work, still, the angling of imagery and strokes would balance. Kuhn is refreshingly indefinable yet, as confirmed by this show, indisputably a fine artist making her way in the art world.

Sophisticated Beasts is up through September 2 at RNG Gallery adjacent to Dixie Quicks in Council Bluffs.

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