Paul Cowan

Born 1985, Kansas City, USA
Lives and works Los Angeles, CA


2012    MFA, University of Illinois at Chicago
2007    BFA, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design

Solo Exhibitions 

Michael Jon Gallery, Miami, FL
Dennis Kimmerich, Berlin, Germany
L21, Madrid, Spain

Clifton Benevento, New York, NY
Some Rehearsals, Green Gallery , Milwaukee, WI
Jonathan Viner, London, UK

Pallarel Procssieng, Shane Campbell, Chicago, IL
Paarllel Pocressing, Young Art, Los Angeles, CA

MCA Chicago, Chicago, IL
Did not want to [—?—] his [—?—] of [—?—].,Clifton Benevento, New York, NY
New Work, Michael Jon Gallery, Miami, FL
New Work, Important Projects, Oakland, CA

New Work, Shane Campbell Gallery, Oak Park, IL
In Medias Res, 1dM, Chicago, IL
Caesurian Complex, Young Art, Los Angeles, CA
Breaking The Law, Alderman Exhibitions, Chicago, IL

Alla Prima, Golden Age, Chicago, IL
Existence Value, Roots & Culture, Chicago, IL

Muse About Certain Motifs, SUNY Purchase College/Bulletin Board Program, Purchase, NY
Existence Value, Jettison Space, Chicago, IL
You Can Build A House, with Scott Cowan/Katy Keefe, The Pigeon Wing, London, UK
At Them Not Through Them w/ Michael Hunter, Knock Knock Gallery, Chicago, IL

Group Exhibitions

173 E 94th St. / Chaussée de Waterloo 550, Middlemarch, Brussels, Belgium
Paul Cowan, Jeff Eaton, David Elliott, Sean Keenan
, City Ice Arts, Kansas City, MO
Duck Soup, Galerie Nordenhake, Stockholm, Sweden
The Next Level, Annarumma Gallery, Naples, Italy
La Chose En Cadrée, SWG3 Gallery, Glasgow, UK

Comrades of Time, Cell Projects Space, London, UK
A Study in Midwestern Appropriation, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL
Group Show, ReMap, Athens Greece
Paul Cowan, Brendan Fowler, Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago, IL
Wassup Painters, Anat Ebgi Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Why Is Everything The Same?, Shoot The Lobster, New York, NY
Group Show, 247365, Brooklyn, NY
Very New Works, DUVE Gallery, Berlin Germany
P&Co., Thomas Duncan Gallery, L.A., CA

Persistence of Vision, Kavi Gupta, Berlin, Germany
Everyday Abstract – Abstract Everyday, James Cohan Gallery, New York, NY
First Among Equals, (w/Alex Da Corte), ICA, Philadelphia, PA
New Work, (w/Sam Falls), Manifest Exhibitions, Chicago, IL
Phantom Limb, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
Mise-En-Scéne, Young Art, Los Angeles, CA
Hello? I Forgot My Mantra, Clifton Benevento, New York, NY

Cocktails, (w/pplsft) Bodega, Philadelphia, PA
Straw – curated by Erik Lindman, Hannah Barry Gallery, London, UK
Wax Apple, Bodega, Philadelphia, PA
The New New Chicagoans, Co-Prosperity, Chicago, IL
Three Card Monte w/ Martine Syms & Marco Braunschweiler, Green Gallery, Milwaukee WI
Group Show, (w/Amy Yao & Cameron Soren), Jancar Jones, San Francisco, CA

Permanent Collection, White Flags, with Golden Age, St. Louis, MO
Permanent Collection, Important Projects, with Golden Age, Oakland, CA
The Corridor to Success, The Composing Rooms, London, UK
Bad Sculpture w/ Hugh Scott-Douglas and Maxwell Simmer, Young Art, Los Angeles, CA
New Paintings, Next Fair / Art Chicago with Proximity Magazine, Chicago, IL
Holiday Primetime In May, Primetime, Brooklyn, NY
Agency at Agency, The Agency, London, UK
Kingsboro Presents, West Street Gallery, New York, NY
When did you begin calling yourself… with Scott Cowan, Important Projects, Oakland, CA
Causality Without Cause, (w/Matt Stolle), Devening Projects, Chicago, IL

Semi-Automatic, Interview Magazine / Mondrian Hotel, Miami, FL
Brâncuşi, Moore and Swayze, Project Space, Toronto, ON
Reconnection: New Sculpture and Painting, Alumni Exhibit, MIAD, Milwaukee, WI
Art Chicago / Next Fair, with Scott Projects, Chicago, IL
Either Both/And Or Neither/Nor, with Scott Cowan, Scott ProjectsChicago, IL

Poster Market International, The Suburban, Oak Park, IL
Tomorrow, Vega Estates, Chicago, IL
Poster Market International, Blank Space, New York, NY

You Can Depend On The Sunrise, The Green Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
Would You Know My Name If…, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Milwaukee, WI


“Paul Cowan, Clifton Benevento, ” Mousse Magazine online, December 4
“Paul Cowan at Clifton Benevento,” Cura Online, November
Jacob Proctor, “Paul Cowan, Shane Campbell Gallery,” Artforum, April, Vol. 52 No.8, p256/266
Stephanie Cristello, “Paul Cowan: Parallel Processing at Shane Campbell,” New American Paintings, January 14

Ryan E. Steadman, “Paul Cowan, Clifton Benevento,” Modern Painters, January, p69

Pablo Lauris, “Meet Chicago-based artist Paul Cowan,” Kaleidoscope, Issue 17, p.142
Christopher Y. Lew, “Paul Cowan at MCA Chicago,” Mousse Magazine, Issue 35, October 12, p.168-170
“Paul Cowan at Clifton Benevento,”, October
Monica Westin, “Meet Paul Cowan: Short Circuits and Metaphors for Painting,”, August 20
Randall Miller, “Paul Cowan, Brendan Fowler, Chadwick Rantanen, Dan Rees at Shane Campbell Gallery, ”, July 26
Julia Schaefer, “SoHo’s Art Revival,” Artlog, March 23, 2012
Hunter Braithwaite, “Paul Cowan, Michael Jon Gallery,” Critic’s Pick, Artforum, February 13

New Painting & Sculpture, Kingsboro Press, New York NY

The Music & The Wine
, (Book of Short Stories), First Edition of 100, Self Published

September 8 – November 3, 2012

Clifton Benevento is pleased to present Did not want to [—?—] his [—?—] of [—?—]., the New York solo exhibition debut of 
the Chicago based artist Paul Cowan. The exhibition will run from September 8th to November 3rd, 2012.

Using as title an excerpt from Melville’s Marginalia – a virtual archive dedicated to the documentation of books owned and borrowed by Herman Melville and designed to showcase the author’s extensive liner notes — Cowan contextualizes his exhibition with a meditation on the periphery, of value in the trivial.

In Paul Cowan’s latest body of work, the artist often develops themes of “process” to stand in or to replace the material of his medium. Cowan’s “sign paintings,” for example, feature minimal, economic gestures that
frequently invoke both negative and positive space. These works, which are made
by professional sign painters rather than specifically by the artist’s hand, open
questions of value and ethics of work and how each are often tied to notions of
commodity, exchange and trade.  The formal qualities of paint are further expanded upon in Cowan’s “scented walls,” works wherein essential oils are combined with latex paint. Illuminating paint as both a context and support for the work, these objects also open up questions about temporality and obsolescence – the scent of the paint fades before the color.  These works, which can be used to cover bare gallery / institutional walls, have
the ability to both restore exhibition spaces to a “white cube” standard while
simultaneously producing an art object and thereby gesturing to the painterly
tension between concealing and revealing.

Using stainless steel urinal partitions to formally and conceptually punctuate
space, Cowan’s “steel partitions,” while purchased direct from a manufacturer,
are only fully realized during the installation process. Here, the works
accumulate the marks and scuffs inherent in any installation process, a reaction
in part to the passive nature of stainless steel which Cowan inflects as
both a formal and conceptual quality. As the piece is repeatedly installed and
de-installed the marks on the object become less those of artist and instead
begin to generate content by questioning its own production in terms of its
distribution. These works ultimately problematize the “original” by never being
able to fully mimic its previous presentation/performance.

Paul Cowan was born in 1985 in Kansas City, KS and will be featured in an upcoming solo exhibition at MCA Chicago this fall. Recent projects include Important
Projects (Oakland, CA), Michael Jon Gallery (Miami, FL), Shane Campbell (Oak
Park, IL). Recent group exhibitions
include ‘Everyday Abstract – Abstract Everyday’, James Cohan Gallery (New York,
NY),’ New Work’, ‘Mise-en-scene’, Young Art, (Los Angeles, CA), ‘Phantom
Limb’, Museum of Contemporary Art, (Chicago, IL) and
Hello? I Forgot My Mantra, Clifton Benevento, (New York, NY).

The exhibition will run from September 8 – November 3 2012; opening reception is Saturday, September 8 from 5-7pm.  The gallery is located at 515 Broadway between Broome and Spring streets, New York, NY, and open Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-6pm.  For more information please contact Michael at 212-431-6325 or

Ryan E. Steadman, “Paul Cowan, Clifton Benevento”. Modern Painters. January 2013, p69.

“Paul Cowan at Clifton Benevento”. October 2012.