Paul Cahan

Artist Statement

I have always had an internal motivation to express myself through art from a young age. My website is a small catalogue of my work that traces my earnest start with photography, then painting, and focusing primarily on sculpture the last 20 years. Lately I have worked on documenting the texture of the antique barns in northern Maine that are slowly disappearing. This turned into an extensive printing project.

I am currently privileged to have recently been chosen by Janet Bishop, Curator of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to participate in a national juried competition. I have been chosen to participate with 53 artists at the Barrett Art Center’s New Directions 2015 Art Show running from Sept. 26 – Oct. 31, 2015 in Poughkeepsie, New York.

I took art courses after work in numerous art schools and universities. I am a prolific reader about art and artists, attending museums and art galleries, and became close friends with established, well regarded artists such as Eliot Lable, and Paul and Eva Marco. (examples in website)

As my art has matured over the years, I have worked in series, which are delineated in my website’s different “galleries”. When I create an art piece, it has a deep meaning to me. I think having an accident in 1997 that led to a period of very intense, prolonged pain influenced my artistic directions.

I took to welding for many reasons. My late father was an inventor beginning with surgical instruments during WWII as an Air Force Physician. Details are in the website Gallery “Early Influences.” I became close friends with an artist in Maine, Paul Marco, who welded found objects during the 1980’s. Examples of Marco’s work, are in my website. I had deep conversations with him about his sculptures, how he survived in Europe during WWII, and how that has affected his art. He encouraged me to take welding courses which I did in the mid-1980’s at New York’s Sculpture Center.

While working on a piece, something spiritual happens…something deep inside of me expresses itself that I cannot put into words. I let my creativity occur organically, a mysterious process, blending my history with art history, the “gestalt” of life as I have experienced it, as a son of a doctor, inventor, and photographer, as a compassionate person who adheres to ideals and principles that are a part of my creative work. I delve into deep thought and feeling when I am merged with a subject matter, a physical form while I create it. It becomes an extension of myself…. the pieces of art and the physical process of making it becomes a relationship. At times I feel in some sort of meditative state while creating. I start with an idea, a feeling, not a sketch. The piece evolves like a poem and the pieces are put together as a whole and grows over and into space, not going from A to Z, or following an art school methodology, or a “branded” style that I have choosen to “market”. Parts of each sculpture are formed, and welded together where the fit and space feels right in relation to the whole and the space around it. Each part is just where it should be when looking and touching it. Each part is interconnected, as is everything and everyone in the universe.

When it’s completed, it feels like it’s stopped being an appendage of myself, I stop thinking about it in the same way. Sometimes after the “birth” of a piece, I feel sad. It’s often a process with many ups and downs. I then wait for a new inspiration to bond with my head, hands and heart again for as long as it takes to complete it and have the feeling that it’s perfect…. for a moment. Often there are too many simultaneous projects that I want to work with, but the process of welding and applying color is slow.

I have been adding color to my finished sculptures over the past few years. I see the sculpture as a canvass, and color as a way to bring an added depth, a fourth dimension to the piece. I was scared of putting color on my work for a long time. My mentors did not use color. Using color now feels like a revelation. You will see what I mean.

Paul W. Cahan Oct. 4, 2014 Revised Sept. 2015



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