Elsie Kagan

My paintings fuse the formal tropes of traditional genres with an energetic emphasis on the medium’s materiality. Drawing from 17th century Northern European still life paintings, as well as live observation, my work harnesses the power of pictorial space and surface presence, testing the line between representation and abstraction.
Often large in scale, the work is physically active, corresponding with my arm span and the movement of my body. I use a combination of oil paint and watercolor paint suspended in vinyl to achieve a drippy dynamic vibrancy. As a counterpoint to the large-scale work, I make smaller compositions with Flashe paint on panel—intimate sketches emphasizing drawing and gesture.
Dramatic and exuberant, my floral paintings depict the delicate refraction of stems in water alongside gravity’s power to drag color down a surface, seeking that charged moment when paint is at once a smear and a cluster of blossoms.