Paul Cahan


When I am working in three dimensions, I almost always think and feel in figurative terms. Painting is seeing, but sculpting adds the additional dimension that makes what I am doing seem more alive. I have found that studying and making art to be one of the most gratifying experiences of life. It brings depth and meaning to my life when I communicate in this way with others, and with the piece that I am working on. It is a non-verbal conversation… perhaps primitive, instinctual. It’s spiritual in some way; when working I’m not aware of how quickly time passes , concentrating on the work is the only thing that matters. Existence is different in these moments, hours.

If I am creating a piece with a particular person in mind, it is an intense feeling; touching the material as if the mental model is real, giving life to the inanimate. It’s a magical process. Outside the studio, I think about the piece more often than the time working on it, a relationship with the form develops until the whole emerges and flows as one. It sometimes sits on the kitchen table and I stare at it, while creating a piece it becomes a part of my life. When the piece is finished, it’s sad. It was a special process., a relationship of sorts. The final work has to speak to me and feel alive, it is a complex unique figure. (See photos of “Infatuation 1 and 2”) If I don’t have that feeling, it’s not a successful work. Good art expresses much more than words can possibly describe, for me, it’s interpretation can change over time as each person views it in his or her own way.

The “I-Beam” piece: it is an abstract figure… but I know deep down it is an amalgam of experiences. Sharp edges, lost intimacy, lost trust…the head is in sharp contrast from the smooth and gentle curves of the figure. The top of the piece, an I-Beam which represents the head, is angular, dissonant from the shape of the body, it protrudes from the whole form but is in complete balance with the I-Beams on the base, which ground the work with two I-Beam feet. The insides are vulnerable, empty space, you can see through his barriers. A self portrait? Probably. This piece just flowed out of me; it was assembled in a few days.
Work in my other galleries, such as the ‘music” gallery on this site, are often figurative as well. This theme permeates a great deal of my art.

We put people into categories. We are taught to see types; the liberal, the conservative, why do many people disrespect the poor and idolize the wealthy? I try to portray people inside out; to break down the walls that media and institutions of our economic system teach us how to see, interpret, and even feel. I want the insides to be seen first and be of utmost importance. I think I began to focus on the figurative after the awful injury and pain I had to struggle with that began in 1998. (Pain Gallery) Many of my pieces are about suffering; such as the Homage to Egon Schiele. Working with steel allows me the creative freedom to twist the metal, cut it like real wounds, show the pain that is a part of life that most people can relate to in this violent world…. it is more real than “How are you? I’m Fine” (See Pain Gallery)

“The Kandinsky Portrait” was a fun portrait to make. Vasily Kandinsky was a great intellectual, his art was his life; his mind was the canvas inside the painting inside the sculpture’s abstracted skull. It grew layers over time, choosing the colors of each section took a very long time in “conversation” with his work.
“The Violinist” stands tall, music orbits a personal universe of sound and color. Curved legs run up to the strings and hair which are bright, they speak clear notes of importance that resonate far.

My figures feel like spirits. A few of the figurative artists who’s work have touched me deeply are the cubists, German Expressionists, Ludwig Meidner, Kathe Kollwitz, Jean Dubuffet, Barlach, Picasso and more Picasso, David Smith, Hans Arp, Native American Shaman artists whose great work is underappreciated , the WPA artists who documented the effects of exploitation, and my friends Paul and Eva Marco.

The earth has given us Giacometti-like fragility, pushed by winds we bend and sometimes break. Our insides are a vast universe in constant flux between consonance and dissonance, tension and balance. When my tall works are outside, (like the first piece, “Pablo) the long pieces of metal sway and strike each other’s limbs and eyes, they sing with the movement of the air.

Jan. 2015

Please click on images thumbnails for larger view:


Portrait of Kandinsky
Head 1
Untitled 2002
Untitled 2002
Inside 1
Inside 3
Couple Sculpture
Hackensack River Soxophonist
Kiss 1 Found Objects
Kiss 2 Found Objects
Meditation Blues
Mediation Two Blues
Mediation Green
Egon Schiele Homage
Egon Schiele Homage



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