“The Abstract Expressionism of everyday life” – Marcel Pedragosa
From a world that exists as instants of fluctuating possibility, Cape Town-based Syndi Kahn extracts moments of unadulterated wonder in her new collection of luminous paintings.
Using her own photographs as well as found imagery, Kahn captures a series of figures deeply engrossed in unfolding moments. In ‘A Dream No One Can See’ a girl waves a bright sparkler; in ‘Lost for Words’ a boy grasps something glowing indistinctly close to himself. It is not always clear what is happening in the scenes, but the introverted reverie of the narratives draws us into the pure, present moment.
Drawing on long-exposure and bokeh photography as inspiration, there is a sense of visible shift in the softly blurred lines of her painted portraits. This creates movement and ambiguity. Kahn refers in particular to Manhattan street photographer Saul Leiter as a photographic muse. In her own work we can see the same attentiveness paid to the quietly mundane that makes Leiter’s work memorable. Kahn also cites Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi and her lyrical but minimal imagery. Reviewing ‘Wondering’, we see Kahn focus on similarly ordinary yet serene reflections, which honour the importance of imagination and awe in the everyday.
In a movement away from her previous abstractions, Kahn’s foray into figurative painting connects the viewers to the works, as we are intrigued by what is unfolding. The artist comments that “by purposefully not attempting to recreate perfection in these images I have left the elements and the message open to the viewer’s interpretation”. The sense of enigma is heightened by the series’ saturated colour, with most pieces being composed of shades in a single colour. This monochromatic colour palette does not allow for distraction from each instant, and underlines their significance.
With ‘Wondering’, Kahn observes: “I am sharing the beauty and mystery of everyday life”.