SFW&C Fiesta Featured Artist 2009
Born and raised in southern Russia near the Caspian Sea, Kohn grew up in a highly creative environment, encouraged by his parents to draw, paint, and sculpt freely. At the age of 15, he apprenticed in the studios of several noted Russian Impressionist and realist painters, and by age 16 knew beyond any doubt that he wanted to become a professional artist and so enrolled at the University of Moscow, where he earned a coveted spot in the school’s prestigious and highly competitive fine-arts program
However, in his third year of university, Kohn experienced a major geographic and cultural-paradigm shift. His father, then a high-ranking member of the Russian army, was invited to participate in the first international post-Cold War officer-exchange program, which consisted of a yearlong stint at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. In 1992, while Kohn was visiting his parents in the United States, his father announced their intention to remain in the country, thereby setting the family on a new course. Kohn wasted no time embracing his vastly changed life. He enrolled in the art program at Auburn University at Montgomery after becoming the first recipient of the International Peace Scholarship there. He went on to earn his bachelor of fine arts degree three years later.
After moving to the United States, Kohn held a variety of jobs to make ends meet—including house cleaner, picture framer, and car salesman—all while building his portfolio. He moved to Arizona in 2000, intrigued by the geography, climate, and ethos of the American West, especially its vast landscapes, horse and ranch operations, and Native American sites. He painted those themes for a while but eventually found that he had taken the subject matter as far as he could. At that point Kohn fully embraced his current brand of figurative work, which ultimately would provide him with a broader, more challenging set of creative possibilities.
Kohn refers to his painting style as “contemporary figurative expressionism.”