Scott Kahn

Poetic, subtly odd translations of memory to canvas.

American artist Scott Kahn was born in 1946 in Springfield, Massachusetts and now resides in upstate New York.

Did you know?

Kahn’s career gained exponential momentum after more than three decades of painting when self-taught Canadian artist Matthew Wong cited his work, and friendship, as an important source of inspiration.


He has since received prestigious awards from organisations such as the Pollock-Krasner Foundation in New York City and the Edward Albee Foundation in Montauk, New York.

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Practice overview

Kahn’s carefully composed oil paintings are predominantly landscapes, but also include portraits, interiors and still life. The works pay close attention to light and depth, honing in on specific details like a branch, a reflection or the light of the moon. Memory is a key theme for Kahn who is keen to express the emotional condition of the places he recalls, rather than their exact physicality. As a result, he creates a subtle form of autobiography through his meditative and methodical painting process. Influences include an eclectic cohort of modernist painters, from the abstraction of Lee Krasner and Mark Rothko, to the figuration of Francis Bacon and Otto Dix and the surrealism of Dora Maar and René Magritte.

Kahn’s work hides as much as it reveals. The Poet’s Room (2020) looks through an open doorway to an empty corridor culminating in a single, closed blue door. Composed of misty grey, blue and brown hues, the arrangement is - as with many of the artist’s paintings - symmetrical. While the title supposedly reveals who the room belongs to, the sparse interior space is mysterious and eerie, posing more questions than it answers. In this sense the painting is no longer about what is within the fame, but instead what is beyond it. Half homely, half haunting, Kahn‘s paintings strike a delicate and compelling balance of warmth and unease.

“I consider my work to be a visual diary, a record of my life.” Scott Kahn