Peter Kohut

Peter Kohut
University of Ottawa (ON)

We shape our perception of the visible world and I am interested in exploring that process. By reducing painting’s elements to colour, form, and surface, my work highlights anomalies of seeing and challenges the viewer’s relationship to the picture plane. This manifests itself in paintings that are experiential and exploit the architectural/spatial characteristics of the environment.

Colour is the engine that drives our perception of the visible world. Colour is light and it is what allows us to consciously define shapes in space. It also enables us to define our subjective relationship to the visible world. My paintings evoke this sense of consciousness through the perception of colour and contrast. My art practice revisits some of the principles established by Mark Rothko, Agnes Martin, and Brice Marden. I use the language of reduced abstraction and fuse it with the organic. I focus on process (repetitive mark-making, layering of paint) to show the redemptive act of the hand-made. Through my practice, I explore the perception of things before they can be named or that communicate in a non-literal way because a tacit experience of a painting can strike a deep chord with a viewer. My work takes form as paintings that lean toward installation, situation, or environment. I am interested in art as an embodied experience, art that goes beyond the object/image, an immersive experience of colour consciousness. Western culture is in a state of collapse largely due to Capitalist systems and the acquisition of commodities. I want to make art that sits just outside of materiality, that has a presence, that oscillates, that has its own energy, that is more of a question than an answer. My goal is to create an experience for the viewer that makes them aware of colour as an important element of consciousness, that challenges their understanding of perception, and raises questions of what a painting is and can do. I want my painting to act as a form of inquiry and exploration into how and why we see things the way we do while at the same time giving the viewer an embodied sensory event. I want my paintings to act as signposts that lead to deeper questions, enable discussions, and evoke the unknowable.

I am an experienced graphic designer (15 years) but my passion for art prompted me to change my career focus. My inquiries into the theory and history of colour perception have enticed me to let go of conventional representation and experiment with a pared-down, minimal form of painting that leans toward painting as installation art. I received my BFA in Visual Arts (Honours) from the University of Victoria in 2019. I am currently studying for my MFA at the University of Ottawa.