Discovering Oscar Cahen: Traumoeba
Discovering Oscar Cahén (1916-1956), a collaborative exhibition between TrépanierBaer Gallery and Feheley Fine Arts, was to have opened on November 26, 2020 at Centre Space at Feheley Fine Arts in Toronto. Although the exhibition was postponed, we continue to present works that are available and that will be in the exhibition in advance of its eventual opening. We begin with the impressive painting titled Traumoeba.
Traumoeba (1956) is a radiant tour-de-force painting made during the last year of Cahén’s life. Its porte-manteau title is an amalgamation of the word trauma, the German word traum (dream), and the word amoeba, a unicellular organism that has the ability to alter its shape, primarily by extending and retracting. Traumoeba made its first public appearance in June of 1956 as part of a circulating exhibition sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution titled Canadian Abstract Paintings. Along with other works by Oscar Cahén, it travelled in the United States for the next two years, and was then shown to Canadian audiences in 1959 at the Art Gallery of Toronto in the Oscar Cahén Memorial Exhibition.
Traumoeba is a jewel-toned kaleidoscopic presentation of Cahén’s bold gestures and vibrating colour combinations in taut, compartmentalized, carefully balanced compositions. In post-war times, abstraction allowed for a different processing of emotion via colour, rhythm and shapes, and Cahén – who had been an unwilling refugee during World War II – availed himself of this genre and its infinite potential.
Op. Cit., Oscar Cahén, 2017, p. 78; and Oscar Cahén: Life & Work, 2015, p. 58.
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Traumoeba,FAO 036, 1956
Oil on Masonite
36” x 48”