Darkest Dark puts heavy metal music on paper at 707 Gallery | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Darkest Dark puts heavy metal music on paper at 707 Gallery

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham

Currently on view at 707 Gallery is Darkest Dark, an ongoing series of large-scale charcoal drawings inspired by heavy metal music. Artist Oreen Cohen created the thirteen works on display while listening to metal and striking the surface of the paper in time to the music. These charcoal drawings contrast broad strokes and thick lines against smaller, more intricate patterns.  

The very first drawing sits next to the front windows of the gallery. Unlike the other featured pieces in Darkest Dark, the white background of this drawing stands out. The charcoal marks are scattered across the paper. Some are straight lines, some are circular. Some slowly fade from black to gray and finally into nothing, which is a stark contrast to the other drawings of the exhibit.

The other pieces included in Darkest Dark are, unsurprisingly, dark. Most of the large-scale papers are almost entirely covered in jet-black. The white base of the paper peeks through small gaps between the black wisps, loops, lines, and zigzags. The ultimate takeaway of the artwork is the contrast between light and dark and the beauty of working with opposite colors. 

Within each piece, there are details that cannot be overlooked. At certain points in the exhibit, the eyes focus on intricate lines placed in small white gaps between thicker black stokes of the piece. The ridges of these smaller strokes offer a distraction from the louder parts of the pieces, similar to the bridge in a song.

Cohen has been working with local artists Jonathan Hodges (of the band Echo Lightwave Unspeakable) and Gia T. Cacalano since February. The team developed an improvisational work titled “Somatic Automatic,” which they based off of interactions with an audience, and was performed in February. A remixed version of this work will be performed at 707 during a gallery crawl on Fri., July 12. Cohen, Cacalano, and Hodges will continue their project by conducting a live drawing to lo-fi punk by local band, Speed Plans. The work from that event will be up until Sun., July 14. 

Darkest Dark is a simple exhibition, and Cohen’s drawings are visually pleasing for a quick visit to the 707. However, for those that may not be big fans of minimalist art, Darkest Dark could come across as a bit lackluster. All thirteen of the drawings look similar, and someone could walk in, take a quick look around, and be out in less than five minutes. 

On the other hand, the simplicity of the art and Cohen’s talent as an artist will not disappoint fans of charcoal art. Ultimately, the exhibit is definitely worth a trip to the 707. 

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