Kainen’s style went through numerous changes, from abstract to figurative and back to an abstract manner, yet he did not follow other artists closely. Instead Kainen retained his individuality, finding and expressing personal meaning in his art. Moving from New York genre scenes to still lifes, to near abstraction, Kainen’s career culminated with large-scale geometric abstractions that retain a sense of personal experimentation. Despite an eclectic array of subjects, the character of Kainen’s painting remains remarkably consistent—in particular, the way in which all elements in his compositions work together to create an expressive image.
Painted in 1955 when his work continued to reflect the artist’s representational and expressionist roots, Only in Darkness may be derived from a still life subject. The central green plane stabilizes the composition by dominating the many smaller facets of color throughout. Fragmentary colored shapes resist identification and circulate in a seemingly random way; nevertheless, these shapes define a strong vertical and horizontal framework, and, in the end, it is this movement that provides a lasting tension between the static and dynamic elements of the composition.