Thomas Gebremedhin interviews painter Lisa Yuskavage whose work is on view at David Zwirner, New York, through June 13, 2015.
Yuskavage comments: "I’ve gotten cease and desist letters. They’ve called me pornographic, like it’s a bad thing. We are living in a world where you have to go to battle to have an open mind. People are a little more used to seeing what I do now, but when I was making my early work they were really not prepared for it. And I loved what I was doing so much, because I knew it was right. If it feels so good, it’s got to be right. I stopped thinking about making art that looked like anything else. I had a direct line to this thing inside of myself. It’s like cooking and saying, I have a hankering for this and a little bit of that. You’re not working from a recipe because the goal is not a known goal. You’re putting something together based on cravings. I wanted to make art that I was hoping to see and hadn’t seen. To be able to get back to painting was a real act of defiance for me, especially against myself. When I got back to it I felt like I was breathing air for the first time."
Uglow writes: "Most of the drawings date from 1819 to 1820, when Goya was in his early seventies. In 1819 he had bought his house in the country, where he covered the walls with his terrible 'Black Paintings,' like Saturn Devouring his Son, full of the fear of madness and the cruelty of the world. The 'Witches and Old Women' album provides a key to his dark imaginings. These are private drawings, seen by a few friends, in which Goya could be rude, macabre, bitter according to mood, unfettered by constraints of patrons or politeness."
Kalinovski observes: "Worth uses non-traditional supports and techniques in his work. Painting with airbrushed acrylic on nylon mesh or Mylar has the effect of layering illusionistic space on top of the painting’s actual, material space. In areas where the surface is translucent, the stretchers and the wall behind the painting can be glimpsed. This gives each painting two sources of space: the illusionistic space of the painted image and the space behind the painting that can be seen through the mesh. These perspectives often clash with each other, such that perspectives cannot be synchronized to create a coherent sense of space."
Cardoza writes: "The works by Todd Kelly and Morgan Mandalay ... help bring the concept of the still life into the twenty-first century. Kelly’s pieces are the more straightforward of the two, with influences ranging from Dutch and French masters from seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to a visual representation of the gravitational pull of the planets... eight paintings from [Mandalay's] series [are] in the show, depicting a vase of flowers in varying degrees of completeness, always framed by the same red curtains. Made with oil and spray paint, these paintings are arresting in real life; the oil paint in some is layered so thick the flowers seem to be blooming off the canvas."
Alice Spawls reviews an exhibition of works by Leonora Carrington at Tate Liverpool, on view through May 31, 2015.
Spawls writes: "[Carrington] refused to explain her personal symbolism, but called reading The White Goddess ‘the greatest revelation of my life’. The figure of the muse, Robert Graves’s ‘Mother of all Living, the ancient power of fright and lust’, became less burdensome as manifested in The Giantess (c.1950), whose colossal central figure towers over the scene like a Madonna della Misericordia. She cradles an egg; geese fly out from beneath her pallium; her golden hair is a field of wheat. Around her feet a hunt is taking place – Uccello’s Hunt in the Forest but with a sylph instead of a stag – while the sea behind is teeming with boats, whales, crabs and bizarre creatures like monsters on a medieval map."
Sultan observes: "Looking at the long black line on the left wall, I see that it has some weight and presence, but it's not quite a sculpture. It is, rather, a long narrow, irregular painting, pointed on both ends so as to push into the space around it, animating the wall. The surface isn't polished and smooth, but bumpy and somewhat misshapen. I find this imperfection very touching, and the emotion is heightened for me by the ordinariness of this object placed on the wall: it is a line, and a hand-formed object, inviting metaphor... Palermo called his hybrid works of painting in three dimensions 'objects'. They are painting amplified."
Blood writes: "Lawrence conceived the Migration Series as a single work composed of 60 parts ... He began by writing the captions, which were then edited by his wife Gwendolyn Knight, and then proceed to prepare all the panels with gesso and laid in the composition. As a young artist working on a limited budget, he chose inexpensive materials: pencil, ink, tempera and hardboard. Thanks to an artist’s grant, he was able to rent a studio large enough to let him view and work on all 60 paintings simultaneously. To ensure the formal cohesion of the project, Lawrence began with the darkest colours and applied them to each canvas before progressing to the next pigment. Working in this way allowed him to maintain the visual and spiritual unity of the project, and the clear repetition of colour across the panels creates a sense of movement and rhythm."
Alexis Clements reviews works by Etel Adnan at Galerie Lelong, New York, on view through May 8, 2015.
Clements writes: "On Adnan’s uncluttered canvases the color vibrates and pulses with an ecstatic fluorescence that lends many of the abstract works on display an energy and life that I could not look away from... Beyond Adnan’s use of color, one of the things that struck me most about the show at Lelong is the intense economy of her work. Not only are the works of a small scale (few of the paintings exceed 13 x 16 inches), but the paint is generally applied in only one layer... There are no obvious edits and changes in her work, no excess — instead, there seems to be a patient clarity, a practiced hand and mind."
Goodrich writes that "what is especially rewarding about [Dubrow's] latest work... is the way it continues to explore and evolve. In his case, the evolution isn’t towards a more provocative technique or motif – if anything, these aspects of his work have taken on a more utilitarian cast. The articulateness lies elsewhere, and in a trait that may not be evident to every viewer: in his forceful and eloquent arabesques of color. If your definition of active color is simply high-chroma hues or academic, volumetric modeling, his particular gifts may not be apparent. But if you see in color a chance of compositional purposefulness – as evidenced by painters ranging from Chardin to Matisse – Dubrow’s work will consistently impress."
David Cohen moderates an email roundtable discussion on the work of Thomas Nozkowski, on view at Pace Gallery, New York, through April 25, 2015. Participants include: Joseph Masheck, David Brody, Alexander Ross, Marjorie Welish, Jennifer Riley and Raphael Rubinstein.
Rubinstein comments: "Putting aside for the moment the question of why Nozkowski and others have been subject to official neglect, let’s turn to the show at hand. The quantity, and the quality of this quantity and, perhaps most importantly, its diversity, come across as a major statement, which is rather surprising for this artist who, as our compère rightly notes, seems to fit nicely into the category of the 'painter’s painter.' One of the requirements for being a 'painter’s painter' is reticence, developing a style that seems, at least superficially, modest, declining all bombast, and any hint of wanting to make a big art-historical statement. It also helps to paint small. Nozkowski has met these superficial requirements, working at a consistently small scale (which has grown in nearly imperceptible increments over the decades), issuing no explicit challenges in technique or content to the legacy of modernist abstraction, exhibiting no hunger for iconoclasm or transgression. Of course, if one looks at the work more closely, there are all kinds of innovations and transgressions in Nozkowski’s work but they are always subtle and never announce themselves as such."
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.