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Review: Treasure Things at Soren Christensen Gallery 

Collage, installations and works on paper by Audra Kohout

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Astrology is an approximate science that relies on poetic license, but its art world parallels are striking. Scorpio is identified with the mysteries of the psyche, and many of the most psychologically intense artists, including Pablo Picasso, Rene Magritte and Francis Bacon, were born under the Halloween sign. Audra Kohout can be added to that list. Her Treasure Things expo extends her role as a visionary of dark fairy tales for mature audiences, a talent facilitated by her way with visual innuendo. Her subjects initially can recall storybook characters, but then draw viewers into their complex little worlds and may reappear in their dreams. Typically cobbled from vintage doll parts and derelict objects — things once coveted but then cast aside — they live in the shadow realms of the psyche, where they radiate the wayward electricity of unrelated objects suddenly united into unlikely new creatures.

  We see this in works like Chariot, where sled dogs with doll heads pull the skeletal husk of a carriage bearing an armless but militant woman in a spiked helmet. Twin figures are common in Voodoo, but Kohout's protagonists often reflect the more northern European sensibilities seen in Sibling Rivalry (pictured), where youthful Nordic royals in bizarre horned helmets stare quizzically at a world they no longer recognize. Similarly, Jezebel is a bust of a haughty fairy tale stepmother whose toxic sense of entitlement epitomizes everyone inclined to blame the victim — here perhaps The Woodman, a nearby sculpture of a downcast paraplegic lad with animal ears and antlers. A collar and chain enable him to be dragged around on his wheeled dolly, and his Celtic aura is a reminder that the English once dominated the Irish before branching into Africa, Asia and the Americas. But most of these works deal with the subtler dualities of human nature and the tendency of some to dominate others, benignly or not, for reasons that remain elusive, paradoxical and mysterious if not eternal.

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