In this, her New York solo debut, German-born painter Susanne Kühn shows an impressive group of large landscapes that seem traditional in some ways, yet succeed in redefining what landscape painting is, or what it could be. By using a limited palette of greens, grays and black, Kühn heightens the graphic power of the images, which are related to German Expressionist painting and also to certain Japanese woodcuts.
Spring features a highly stylized waterfall in the center of the canvas, which seems to surge from the heart of a Teutonic forest toward the foreground. Tannenbaum presents a bird's-eye view of a towering fir tree whose branches are trimmed with a dusting of snow. The tree dominates the composition in a way that conveys a sense of the sanctity of nature rather than its mighty power.
White Mountain, one of the most striking works on view, shows a brilliant white rock formation framed by two verdant hills. Black clouds swirling in the gray sky add to the mysterious luminosity of the brilliant white peak. In spite of their canny art-historical references, Kühn paintings seem to result from a deeply felt and even mystical approach to nature.
Susanne Kuhn, Sept. 9-Oct. 9, 1999, at Bill Maynes, 529 West 20th St. 10011.