Alan Pocaro reviews Abstraction: A Visual Language at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, on view through July 31, 2015. The show features works by Samantha Bittman, Kika Karadi, Linnéa Spransy, Raychael Stine, Jackie Saccoccio, Nancy Haynes, Magalie Guérin
Pocaro notes: "Aside from the obvious aesthetic concerns of making objects of lasting beauty, the central problem of abstraction has always been one of style and technique. More specifically, it has been the search for a technique that yields and animates an autographic or signature style as unique as the painter’s vision. It’s a lot harder than it sounds: as evidence, witness the cliché-ridden failures of abstract painting’s supposed 'comeback' visible at any given art fair. All the more reason then to celebrate the seven artists whose works comprise the concentrated, diverse and yet seamlessly integrated 'Abstraction: A Visual Language' at Rhona Hoffman Gallery. That these artists are also women is a fact worth highlighting in its own right, but let’s be clear: these are damn good painters first and foremost who make singular works that defy easy categorization."
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."
Megan Abrahams reviews Julie Heffernan's recent exhibition Pre-Occupations at Mark Moore Gallery, Culver City.
Abrahams begins: "Dramatic, intense, surreal and rich with metaphor, Julie Heffernan’s recent series of large figurative tableaux transport us to an apparently post-apocalyptic place and time conceived from the artist’s imagination. In her elegantly realized, often disturbing vision, the earth’s environment appears to have deteriorated, propelling humanity back to a more rustic, primitive and desperate way of life. Layered with beauty, conflict and tension, there is much at stake in the world as portrayed by Heffernan. Her overriding concern is the man-made destruction wrought by climate change, overpopulation and ecological imbalance, which she articulates in the tradition of historical narrative painting interwoven with her own surreal vernacular and elements of the Baroque."
Jennifer Samet interviews painter Henry Taylor about his life and work.
In her introduction Samet notest that Taylor's "paintings bear that emotional porosity. His painting world is his personal world, and our shared cultural world. He makes solo and group portraits of his brothers, his lovers and friends, and people truly living on the edge, along with black athletes, heroes, legends fallen from grace, and iconic victims of societal racism and hate. Broad, color-saturated forms with painterly moments are orchestrated into clear arrangements. Bits of text are often incorporated, as well as singular symbolic attributes (the objects the sitters hold, the clothes they wear) that tell the story of who they are — glimpses of their internal lives, their relationship to the world and each other."
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."
Reaves writes that the show "blends Romantic-era geological drama with mid-century action painting, modernizing it by default in the process... Half-inch-deep paint strokes are sliced with thin, tumbling lines, physically mimicking shattered boulders and scraped sand. They are not quite monochromatic, each painting mostly at one end of the shade spectrum but each also representing stark whites and opaque blacks in restrained ratios. Turpentine-soaked washes are intersected by, sometimes sloppily melding into, buttery blobs and slashes. Maybe it’s because she starts and finishes each painting in more-or-less a single sitting that they have a ton of visual energy..."
Sharon Butler interviews painters Judith Dolnick & Lucy Mink about their thoughts on color. Dolnick's and Mink's paintings are on view at OUTLET, Bushwick, Brooklyn through June 28, 2015.
Dolnick comments: "My choice of color is all very intuitive. One color calls for another. Encourages another. Mix as I go. You know, as I move through the painting. I never mix a lot of color all at once. It’s part of search, isn’t it? To discover a painting over time? ... I don’t consciously think my colors specifically reference objects or experiences. My color choices are more about the colors' relationships to one another."
Mink notes: "I have no particular rules when choosing a color. I have some favorites, cobalt blue and hookers green and I will often be thoughtful of where these color choices are used and what is near them. Lately I get excited about two colors meeting that are new for me. It has to work in the composition, though. I mix as I move through the process. I like not knowing what's going to happen in a painting."
Yau writes: "There is an infectious exuberance to the paintings — a feeling that they are trying to break out of their rectangles, as well as jump out of their skin — which doesn’t feel forced. In four of the five identically-sized, vertical paintings on one wall, Reginato uses differently colored diagonal lines to define a plane jutting toward the painting’s top edge, suggesting an aerial view of a corner of the artist’s studio, where a lot of fervent activity is taking place. The space is ambiguous, as a layer of splashes seem to be hovering above the plane, not having landed on the surface below. This feeling of movement animates the paintings, lifting them out of the literal into a fictive space."
Alexander observes that show "reveals Hall's deep connection to the history of painting -- the materials, processes, systems, and iconography, as well as the ritualized labor of traditional practice. While it might not be obvious to the viewer that each small panel is painstakingly built of many layers of sanded Venetian plaster, what is obvious is the utter sensuality of the resulting surface, and the delicacy and depth of the oil color ground. On top of, or into that ground, Hall uses graphite hash marks and lines to create intricate rhythmic patterns that are at once translucent, physical, and constantly shifting with the viewer's position."
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.