Bernard Cohen (Flowers Central)

Last Thursday I was talking to a fellow FTer about those Roy Lichtensteins where our Roy took the energy and the drippage of abstract impressionism and reproduced it with cartoony flatness.

Bernard Cohen seems to be returning the compliment by using a crunched-up pop palette (cartoony lines and dots, stylised aeroplane shapes) to make abstract explosions of rhythm and colour and energy.

I was having a great deal of fun looking at them (they’re the kind of art you feel with your eyes, if you know what I mean) until it occurred to me that a twisted, busted grid with broken aeroplanes might be some kind of blank comment on the World Trade Centre attacks. I don’t think that was the intention – apparently these are motifs and visual ideas Cohen’s been using for many years – but it got me thinking about how I can’t imagine a painting telling me anything about “9/11” which I don’t already know, or feeling something I haven’t already felt. I wonder why not, and I wonder why I feel so uncomfortable with the idea of someone trying.