Ken Buhler




My relationship to abstraction has been changing in recent years. Sources in the physical world have become more prominent as catalysts in my process of painting and drawing. The first manifestation of this in my work came after a trip to Tulum, Mexico, when I became fascinated with the meandering and convoluting lines of the ossified brain coral that lay washed up on the beach. 


The impulse that connected my work to the physical world continued to evolve during a month I spent on an artist’s residency in Ireland. In addition to the direct visual stimulation of the environment I encountered there, I was energized by the palpable presence of the ancient history that hovers at the surface - in the form of Neolithic tombs, ruins of castles and abbeys, abundant fossils, and a vivid geological history. I felt a strong sense of a time on earth when all was not charted and documented - when the “terra incognita” of the world left mapmakers and scientists with only the option of imaginative and artistic speculation. The mystery of not knowing what lies over the horizon resonates with the sense I have of my own role as an artist – a feeling that I am a chronicler of something important that has yet to be revealed. These impulses manifested in a series of drawings, Notes from the Edge of the World, that incorporate the imagery of rubber stamps, frequently of a botanical or decorative form, with that of the graphite line.


My most recent work is entitled Birdlands and is inspired by the incredibly visual and poetic names of certain birds, such as Antenna Satinbird, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Elliot’s Storm Petrel, Lovely Cotinga, Oriental Dollarbird, and many more. I began to think of my current series of paintings as imagined habitats for these birds and in them I seek to forge the relationship between the character of the rubber stamp drawings and large-scale works using paint on canvas.