"Brooklyn Primitive": The Art of Ivan Koota
Central Library, Grand Lobby
“Ivan Koota’s artwork is a treasure for the Borough of Brooklyn. He preserves Brooklyn’s past through his colorful paintings that capture scenes from his youth,” says Jay Kaplan, Director of BPL’s Willendorf Division. “Koota’s exhibition at Brooklyn Public Library provides insight into one individual’s perspective and interpretation of our borough. His work allows viewers to glimpse Brooklyn’s history and how it has evolved through the years.”
Ivan Koota relates to folk artists, many of whom became artists later in life. His
works illustrate places or reflections from his formative years, such as Lundy’s, BPL’s
Central Library, Nedicks and Nathan’s at Coney Island. Koota works from memory or
old photographs to reinterpret familiar scenes from Brooklyn. Often in Koota’s works, defunct or demolished structures are depicted as he remembers them, as a vibrant part of the community. He enjoys working with bright, bold colors which contribute to the energy, vitality and exuberance in his paintings. The artist accentuates scenes in his paintings with small brush strokes, while still maintaining a sense of realism.
Koota spent the first 26 years of his life in Brooklyn and attended the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center. He completed his first painting at the age of 52, shortly before his retirement in 1994 as a pediatrician. Koota is influenced by Southern folk art and 20th century contemporary artworks. He relates to other artists of his generation including Harry Leiberman, Vestie Davis and Ralph Fasanella and those who depict urban influences in their works.
“When I began painting, I hoped I would someday have the opportunity to show
my work in Brooklyn, and if there is one place I would like to show in Brooklyn, it is the Library,” says Koota. “The idea of artists painting the world they come from appeals to me. Ebbet’s Field, Coney Island, Dubrows, these places were an integral part of growing up in Brooklyn. These intense memories are the source of my inspiration.”
Koota’s first solo exhibit, “Brooklyn On My Mind” was held in Manhattan in 1996. In 1998, his painting of Ebbets Field, entitled “Before The Game,” was shown at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York. His second rendition of “Grand Army Plaza” was selected to be part of an inclusive survey of New York State Folk Art, also held at the Fenimore Art Museum in 1999. An extensive exhibition of his work was held at the Erpf Cultural Institute in the Summer of 2001.