Bradley Kachnowicz will take your senses by storm. This abstract impressionist featured at ENO this summer takes natural subjects and stretches their proportions, plays with their God-given hues, and dares viewers not to succumb completely.
Kachnowicz's practice of painting both large-scale images and pieces in series, both of which are included at ENO, “gets more senses involved. You become engaged, and you're more inclined to participate, to relax and hopefully understand that it's not just my process and my journey ... it's yours as well.”
An essential item in this self-taught artist's toolkit is the blended background, over which he paints detailed images swirling with movement and color.
The secret to his dynamic canvases is a mix of unexpected media.
“I generally begin with multiple layers of acrylic, gesso, sand, dirt, herbs like dried sage, rabbit bush and bits of incense left over in the bowl. Then I layer over oils and mediums,” Kachnowicz said.
He does his mixing on-canvas, often using his hands, sticks and old rags, contributing to the fresh, just-made effect of his work.
From there, his sweeping, often winged, subjects take hold.
“The impetus for a piece is often a phrase or a word I have been stewing over ... it's about getting right to the emotion and how to complete that connection to Earth,” he said.
Kachnowicz often places subjects in a repeating series atop abstract backgrounds and exposes their subtle differences within the whole. While this technique provides a recognizable stamp on his work, it also helps keep the artist interested.
“The boredom is at bay because I am doing it all in each painting,” he said.
In “Robin,” Kachnowicz evenly spaces a handful of robins on a large canvas, each facing the same direction and standing as if waiting in line. While each appears to be a copy of the next, further examination shows slight differences in personality; a lazy eyelid here, a lighter feather tint there.
Kachnowicz further examines the majesty in multiples with “Monarch,” a captivating portrait of butterflies on a warm orange-pink background.
Here and there, an in-flight butterfly is captured with wings flapped down, a wink amid a peaceful, fluttering army.
Once a student of forestry and wildlife biology, Kachnowicz sees “endless repetition in nature, patterns, colors, shapes, textures. Birds and especially butterflies are filled with such intense, miraculous color and patterns. To me, they are energy and healing. People look at them and are awakened and uplifted.”
Another unmistakable aspect of Kachnowicz's art is his intentional overturn of viewer expectation. His representation of the fading sky in “Sunset” has a spare, muted quality, and uses browns and reds rarely associated with this glorious end-of-day phenomenon.
“Break Up,” a further departure from his bright representational work, provides a peek into the process that accompanies Kachnowicz's inspirations. A reflection of the spring ice break-up in Alaska, the idea “gradually transformed into a metaphor piece. It actually came out of a frustrating/challenging process of colors and textures and mostly sitting and contemplating. (The painting) is like good relationships that fade or those epiphanies you get at really wonderful times and events in your life when you know if you blink that moment will be gone, you can never go back; that type of melancholy.”
In addition to ENO, you can find Kachnowicz's work at Serving Life Chiropractic, Sydney Cooley Acupuncture and Sonas Integrative Medical Center, as well as Arroyo Gallery in Santa Fe. With a dynamic, mixed-media approach, widespread exposure in the Four Corners, and Internet projects on the horizon, Kachnowicz keeps one mantra in mind: “Less is so much more.”
Chelsea Terris is a freelance writer and social media specialist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.