Born in 1967 in Thessaloniki, Greece. He holds a BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design in Jerusalem and an MFA with honors from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He is regularly published in The New York Times Book Review, Bloomberg Personal, Money and Forbes. His client list includes Atlantic Records, Delta Airlines, Random House and Chicago Tribune. Mr. Koen serves on the faculty of the illustration department at Parsons School of Design and he is a Masters Thesis Advisor for the School of Visual Arts in New York.
His paintings, prints and books are shown in the galleries and museums in the United States and Europe.
The term "transmigration" refers to successive embodiments, mainly in the sense of rebirth in lower life forms. This theory was first asserted by Pythagoras, the most important early Hellenic thinker and the father of
controversial teachings on reincarnation of souls. He taught that those whose lives had been filled with evil deeds and destructive emotions, were unworthy to reincarnate immediately in human form. Such souls, therefore,
obsessed the bodies of animals and attempted to function through these inferior vehicles until eventual re-elevation to a human host.
The series "Transmigrations" describes a cast of bureaucrats with punished souls, consigned to the lowest life form, with upward mobility nearly impossible. These concoctions of flesh and metal do not appear to be
individuals that made mistakes and wish to repent. They were willing adapters of a predatory modus operandi and now, in their sub-human condition, their instincts apply. Here their essence is physical and exposed, just like the names, which to some degree, mirror the signature trait of the insect with which they where fused. Comfortable in their new suits, they size up their enemies. They have no friends, they never did.
Traditional war memorials have adhered to a strict code of remembrance: commemorate the dead by distancing death; achieve public consensus through the application of a conservative aesthetic. If truth is the casualty in these classic depictions, a greater good remains permanently enshrined: consolation for the bereaved and the elevation of the fallen to cult status. Society needs to rally youth that must fight future wars and these monumental odes to martyrdom provide the necessary inspiration.
Damsels in Armor is a civics lesson of another order: 24 unsanctioned monuments testifying to war¹s truly brutal cost. Rising above the detritus of battle, these damsels bear witness to the inevitable price of engagement;
no suit of armor can shield them from the acid scars of battle, now permanently etched on their once beautiful faces. Triumph's glory has proved to be transient. Corrosion defaces, distorts, reveals. This gallery of figures forces us to acknowledge a reality understandably edited for commissioned monuments: every victory is Pyrrhic.
A fusion of sculptural elements, weapons and armor, these 'victory' compositions have historical roots in works like Nike of Samothrace and DeLacroix¹s celebrated painting "Liberty leading the people". Elements and details were juxtaposed digitally for a seamless, almost painterly finish,
traditional in its look, if unorthodox in content. The damsels faces were selected from 40th and 50th commercial photography, another era when truth was glamorized for mass consumption. Original photography of armaments was done on site at the Arms and Armor Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York City Police Museum, and the War Museum of Greece.
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|"Damsels in armor"