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Date Minted:  September 21, 2020

Artist Description: This is the sister painting to "Soul Awakening". A study on connection, vibration, and transcendence of form.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Being that Trent Kuhn’s self-stated goal is “to communicate my visions of psychedelic surrealism, and to act as a catalyst in raising consciousness to higher realms,” one can’t be too surprised that his tight oeuvre of artworks all center around the psychedelic, the spiritual, and the enlightened. Out of 16 pieces on SuperRare, only a single one does not center the recognizable human body, face, or outline. And that’s a cogent choice when dissecting these kinds of aforementioned intentions, ones which are uniquely human and should, thus, necessitate uniquely human subjects. These are not merely humans though, but doctored and vivisected organisms, stripped of their unique physical characteristics and painted over in gold hues and elevated to the level of deity. Whether it’s the sunrise-hearted woman here in Soulstace, the neutron star in the center of a woman’s torso in //.INTERSTELLAR, or the white-hot shape of a person in early work Ethereal Encounter, Kuhn captures physical forms in some state of spiritual metamorphosis. In Soulstace, with the sunset colors and the radiating energy and the ubiquitous female form belying a godlike Atman core, we may even be seeing the completion of such a metamorphosis. A being of enlightenment —nirvana either received or just sniffed— with no apparent awareness at all that she’s in an artwork, Kuhn’s subject, she of gold and blue skin, is nevertheless a willing participant in her own soulful exposure. And we, separated from her perfection by an impenetrable screen, are the beneficiaries.

We’ve seen this woman before, actually, in Kuhn’s SuperRare Genesis piece Soul Awakening. The same character is centered in both, and Soulstace’s artist description makes clear that the two are sister pieces. By that logic, I think we can safely extrapolate Soul Awakening’s description outward to Soulstace too. “We are spiritual beings having a human experience,” it reads, borrowing a phrase from French Philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Perhaps that’s then what Kuhn has captured here, the human being emerging out of its temporary human cage and into the spiritual form it actually occupies. The blue-and-gold-skinned woman, her head cocked to the side, her eyes closed, she appearing the essence of peace despite the great hole in her chest where a heart, ribs, and breasts might otherwise be. She has no need for such human organs and appendages; in their place is the sunrise itself. A great ball of orange light sits on a horizon line where her heart should be, and from it sprout eight curving upward lines —appearing almost like wings— which pierce through the woman’s physical form and rejoin each other towards the top of the image, where they melt into the North Star, blue and shimmering. A golden glow radiates along the outline of the woman’s body, and Soulstace’s subtle animation has that golden glow radiating outward from the body in heat-like waves. Every now and again, a pulse of bright light travels upward through the eight arcing lines. A purple and pink and orange sphere houses the woman and the lines and all we’ve discussed, but behind it is a strange configuration of runic patterns, all dark purple, though sometimes a bright white spot channels a zigzagging path through them. And below it all, a border to the entire image in the vein of a frame, colored like burnt mahogany, though it is gently animated too, and patterns within it pulse gently outwards. 

Kuhn calls this piece, “A study on connection, vibration, and transcendence of form.” One gets a sense from this piece, and really from his entire oeuvre, that the idea of the human body as a self-contained ecosystem is the prime arena being challenged, and all over this piece —let alone throughout Kuhn’s collected works— there is a lack of concrete edges. It’s most obvious in the lines floating outward from the blue woman’s body, and how they pass freely through her skin. But look at how the details of this piece support that. Colors blend easily into one another, creating new and holistic hues out of that interplay. There is an optical illusion quality in how the frame beneath the woman, for instance, is animated, so that independent shapes are constantly moving, blending into one another, remaining in a state of change even when appearing, at a glance, static. Altogether, the movement in the piece communicates a connective quality, as even the demarcations between unlike areas are linked by the movement of unlike compositional aspects. Light binds these places together. Form too. 

And the part I find most affecting is the expression on the woman’s face. She offers no resistance to what’s happening, her form being literally transcended by the things inside of it. Nevermind that she has a gaping hole in her chest. Nevermind that she’s breaking apart, radiating outward into energy. There is not just a placidity in her expression, but even a kind of vapidity, the kind of face one makes when being sprayed with perfume or cologne, letting it splash onto one’s neck and indulging in the new dimension to one’s being the scent provides. What does transcendence feel like? It must feel something like that! It must move so gently. It must ultimately, however, tear one apart. Though judging by the face before us, that may not feel nearly as painful as it sounds. 

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