Ann Kobdish | The Essentials

By Wolf Schneider

EVEN THOUGH ANN KOBDISH’S minimalist landscapes are without human beings, an awareness of humanity almost always influences these abstracted paintings. Take her current series on Galveston. She went to the Texas port city to observe the landforms firsthand. She stood where the waves wash up and spend themselves, foaming onto the wet sand, and she surveyed the vast waterfront. “It was so desolate there at the beach,” she says, remembering the scene. Back at home in Dallas, her creative process took those images of the south Texas town and amplified her impressions.

“I tried to catch the spiritual value. There, it was about survival—the stories of devastation. That hurricane in the early 1900s, when nobody heeded the warnings. These nuns were trying to escape, so one nun tied a rope around her waist and it went down the way around each child. After the storm, a man on the beach found a piece of rope and there was a child, and he pulled it further and there was another child. Galveston had been a city on the make, but that hurricane changed it.”

This is how it usually works for Kobdish: She picks up on a sense of place in a way that taps into the humanity that has passed through it, or the power intrinsic in the site. “I will see something and do thumbnail sketches, but then I come back to the studio and it’s more of an intuitive feeling that influences how I sculpt the forms,” explains the artist. Mood pervades her modern landscapes, pared down to the essentials of a site—emphasizing line, shape, and color. “I think simplicity is harder to do and makes it contemplative,” she says.

Featured in February 2007

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