Seth Koen and Skirmantas Pipas
Formal Wonders & Wandering Forms
July 2018

This July, Grizzly Grizzly is proud to present Formal Wonders and Wandering Forms, a two-person exhibition that looks at the liminal territory between form, absence, and internal vision. Seth Koen and Skirmantas Pipas use line, shape, and texture in ways that counter our perceptions of the physical world, at times defying gravity and challenging inertia. Though connected by their whimsical gestures and ambiguous marks, the two artists diverge in the outcome of their formal explorations.  While Pipas creates ambiguous and unconscious spaces infused with narrative potential, Koen strips down his gestures to their most essential elements.

Skirmantas Pipas mines the tension between physical and mental states of being.  In the etheral, watery worlds of his imagination, Pipas creates landscapes that appear simultaneously otherworldly and deeply internal. For the show at Grizzly Grizzly, Pipas will present a series of watercolors begun after he was seriously injured in an accident. Working from his hospital bed in the ICU, Pipas became aware of the dichotomy between the input of fluids he was receiving intravenously and the output of fluids to his watercolors. The resulting series examines the struggle between his expectations for, and the limitations of, his physical and mental state.

With instinct and whim as his guiding principle, Seth Koen uses basic materials such as wood and yarn to create elegant forms. Pushing the boundaries of minimal actions, his practice is one of continuous questioning: “Can I carve this piece of wood any thinner? What is the minimal sculptural gesture needed to activate a room? How is this object affected by the space around it? How can I make a piece evocative without being too literal or specific?” For his show at Grizzly Grizzly, Koen will present a new series of small scale carvings. Together, the works create a hieroglyphic language of three-dimensional marks.

Artist Bios

Originally from Maine, Seth Koen recently relocated from Sacramento, CA to Easthampton, MA. Koen received his BA from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. He received his MFA from Mills College in Oakland, CA, where he studied with Ron Nagle. After graduate school, he went on to work as Nagle’s studio assistant for 12 years. Koen has had numerous solo shows at Gregory Lind Gallery, and has been included in group shows in the San Francisco Bay Area at Rena Bransten Gallery, the Richmond Art Center, Headlands Center for the Arts, the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery. He has shown in New York at Jeff Bailey Gallery, and Foley Gallery; the Brewery Project, Los Angeles; Richard Levy Gallery, Albuquerque; and Galerie Hafemann, Wiesbaden, Germany. Koen is the recipient of the Trefethen, Cadogan and Kala Art Institute Fellowships, and the Jay Defeo Prize.

Skirmantas Pipas was born in 1985 in Vilnius, Lithuania, behind the iron curtain. After witnessing the collapse of the Soviet occupation as a teenager, he relocated to Philadelphia. He is a graduate of the Certificate and the MFA program at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. His work explores socio-political and psychological spaces.