Zachary Keeting and Christopher Joy talk with artist Helen O'Leary at her exhibition Delicate Negotiations, on view at Lesley Heller Workspace, New York, through October 18, 2015.
O'Leary remarks: "I have a full history of painters in my head that I'm thinking about... and it's my way of coming to that language through a very very different structure, that's to do with my own life, to do with my own system, to do with my own failure. I think of big, heroic paintings a lot and then I think of my way of getting there, which is through mostly revision, small movements, and failure."
Jason Stopa interviews painter Keltie Ferris whose work is on view at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, through October 17, 2015.
Ferris comments: "I want to use painting's full arsenal. You can indulge in incredible color in painting, so why wouldn't you? Illusionistic qualities—I never understood why that wasn't part of the Greenbergian arsenal. It's one of the great things a painting can do. My work tries to include these things—the objectness, a sense of scale, a sense of the hand—all of those things are exciting to me, and I want to keep them all alive."
Lopas comments: "There is a great deal of painting that I love, have looked at, and learned from. But resonance is something different from that. For a painting to resonate it should be with you when you paint. It should guide you when you make decisions. It should occur to you in moments of reverie. For me those are individual artists or specific paintings, rather than periods. That’s because I think all works of art that exist are in some sense contemporary. If you can stand in front of it now, you can experience it totally on your own terms, regardless of its place in history... For me I have learned that painting is a process that produces a state of mind. It is best when no other concerns invade it. The judgment of others or yourself, the reception of the art world, are hindrances. Paintings are best when made from a state of pure absolute personal need. You must give yourself permission and space to get to it and then notice when you are ripe for working well."
Culp comments: "To me, Cezanne made landscape painting into real golem painting. Before that landscapes were usually the background of things. I studied the 17th century Dutch landscape painters for a while along with Cezanne. Dutch paintings are wonderfully dramatic in the light and shadows, the use of the horizon, you feeling apart of the landscape and even the paint. You can see a mountain so many kinds of ways. The Chinese know it too, the mountain continues to elude you. The author of 'Arctic Dreams' writer Barry Lopez says, 'Nature eludes you, it changes its mood so quickly you will never be able to define it.' He says you can go out and pick up a leaf or remember the scent of a bush, or see some scat, he says you try to put all these pieces together of the land that you love and hope to define it. He said, 'The land will always elude you.' And it does. Painting is a slow way of seeing. Understanding what you’re seeing."
Götz comments: "The works are all about tension or discrepancy between the reality of the space and an abstract idea. I see the space, and I design this abstract painting in my studio, which then changes again completely because of the reality of the space. The moment it’s painted onto a wall, it becomes part of the space - part of reality, never completely abstract. There is a transition between abstraction and the real space; it’s this play that interests me."
Nicole Eisenman and David Humphrey discuss their approaches to narrative and figurative painting.
Eisenman: "My thing is that I’m really into narrative. It’s not about the figure—it’s the storytelling that I’m stuck on. The meat and bones in my practice is somewhere between texture and storytelling."
Humphrey: "Something comes alive right when you’re trying to solve a problem in the picture. It might be: What kind of shoes are on this person? What kind of hat is that? Is that a swivel chair, is there a pattern on it? And in the aggregate of all that problem-solving you end up with a narrative that’s both bigger than, and intersecting with, the manifest narrative of people riding on a train or eating a meal or whatever."
Eisenman: "Somehow what’s happening in the picture gets eclipsed by the meaning of the accumulation of those objects and moments smooshed together. You can look at how those objects and things intersect with texture and structure to deepen the story."
Bogin comments: "I have a long-standing interest in logos and signage and their ability to communicate a wide range of information in a compact image. By coopting parts of that language I am able to communicate non-specific references and influences in a way that make them accessible but still mysterious... I like the tension created by referencing a language that we expect to deliver some sort of information or message but keeping that message elusive to create a more contemplative moment."
Wykes comments: "I find looking and returning to the same subject over numerous sessions rewarding. I tend to go deep into a subject—not wide... Observation is vital. I have always got great enjoyment from seeing. I feel privileged that I have this gift to see. I also think it is to do with retaining the child’s eye of the world before label’s for object’s disguise the subject... I am not concerned with depiction or likeness. I am battling with my preconceptions and how to make a spatial world work on a flat surface. Painting is abstract. It about universal feelings. But on a less formal level, active looking has all the rich trappings of meditation or prayer or oneness, the joy and surprise during a rare moment of lucidity."
Ridley Howard interviews painter Benjamin Butler whose exhibition Another Tree, Another Forest was recently on view at Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna.
Butler comments: "I used to be very interested in combining dissimilar art historical reference points, into singular paintings. It was definitely important for me to use a simple/modern subject matter, the landscape, as a context for what was essentially a post-modern strategy. The landscape format made what could have been a heavy-handed idea more bearable to me. Mondrian was a part of this historical discussion that was happening in my paintings. The singular tree framework/motif functioned like a time machine for me. I often thought to myself, "Imagine if Mondrian had never stopped painting trees, and was then influenced by the many abstract painting languages which came later (that Mondrian, himself, had actually influenced)". This non-linear, and slightly absurdist idea, was incredibly helpful in pushing my project forward. The often-discussed idea of abstraction and figuration, and the blurring of the two, I've always thought, is a rather natural and unavoidable effect of putting paint on canvas. However, it does, usually, make a painting more compelling to look at, for a longer amount of time."
Larry Groff interviews painter Celia Reisman. An exhibition of Reisman's recent paintings was recently on view Paul Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco.
Commenting on the effect of moving to California from Philadelphia, Reisman notes: "I’ve always been attracted to color in the landscape looking for some distinguishing color, like a red bush or a yellow umbrella. Out here it’s been easier to find those experiences with pink houses, purple trees, bougainvillea, a constant array of color that seems to change every few weeks. So in addition to the Dr. Seuss like plants out here, the surrounding color also creates a somewhat surreal and visually exotic experience. It’s a constant bombardment of visual inspiration which I try to capture. San Diego has influenced me to push my palette to brighter greens, reds, oranges etc., colors that are not so abundant back east, finding an excuse to use them. I’ve tried to run with it, exaggerate and use a stronger palette. I’ve also tried to create a color world for each painting so it gives off a sensation or glow of a certain temperature or feeling."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.