Charles Koegel
Brooklyn, NY


Artist’s Statement

My artwork focuses on New York City and its predominantly architectural landscape. I have always been intrigued by the city. Its streets, homes, factories, offices and architectural marvels seem beyond calculation and provide endless exploration. It is constantly transforming and is the product of continuous deliberation over development and the environment. 

All of my paintings communicate a sense of nostalgia for the City’s past life. I use a process of layering acrylic over oil paint to create these fields. This develops a surface to the canvas that splinters or cracks.  The interior layers of paint are visible through the top layer, creating another dimension of color. The cracked surface that occurs from the instinctive reaction between the oil and water based acrylic paints also suggests the look of corrosion. The decayed appearance of the subjects may incite a need for urban renewal for the environment they are inspired from. The paintings are non-representational and composed of geometric rectilinear shapes and grids

`One of my paintings I feel exemplifies some of the subjects I am interested in is entitled "Bubble gum" from 2008. I chose the title because of its color, which includes pink and purple, which reminded me of bubble gum. I felt this title also had substance because of my interest in hip-hop, sampling, and record collecting. The title refers to the use of 9th Creation's 1975 funk song entitled "Bubble gum" by hip-hop artists The Artifacts in their 1994 song "wrong side of da tracks". It is likely a song and artist I never would have heard of had it not been sampled by The Artifacts. In this way hip-hop production has informed me and brought to light countless songs and artists that now seem dated with the passing of time. 

Hip Hop music is of particular interest to me. Not only is it a musical genre, which grew from the urban psyche but is formed from an interest in the history of music. The technique of sampling involves layering sounds taken from obscure or forgotten music. The process of searching through old records and bringing out short portions of music seems to go hand in hand with a concept of abstraction and a technique of layering paint which tries to reveal times gone past. The practice of looping samples I feel is also visually connected with the preponderance of repetitive patterns or pervasiveness of grid-like geometrical forms in my images.

Dominating architectural forms are a focus in my art as well. One of my photographs, Coney Island Apartments, is a digitally printed 48” x 36” color photograph. The photograph was captured using a pinhole camera on Polaroid film. The initial 3.5” x 2” Polaroid was scanned, enlarged using Photoshop, and then digitally printed. 

This particular photograph depicts a wide and roughly 20-story tall, utilitarian apartment building in Coney Island. The large size print attempts to show off the considerable scale of the building, and the experience of being in the actual space. The height of the building is left to the viewer’s imagination as the building continues to ascend beyond the top of the photograph’s frame. I hope that the photograph’s immense scale and eerie atmosphere provokes some thought about the interaction or relationship of its subjects and specifically what type of outlook the future holds involving even the most practical or basic architectural needs.

Similarly, in the drawing Invented Structure, 2008, I was inspired by real estate development and condominiums in Williamsburg. I tried to create an image where the man-made structure appears to grow as artlessly or impulsively as nature itself.  The odd projecting steel frame and Frank Stella inspired skyline invokes something between science fiction and reality. I feel this juxtaposition evokes my changing physical world.

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