Asked about making both abstract and perceptual paintings Kreimer comments: "Some of the things are really central to both. The negative space is probably the main link in both: if there’s a kind of formal structure that has heavy symbolic meaning, it’s the way that the foreground that we tend to ignore becomes present in the paintings. It’s all about negatives. I would say two-thirds of my work is negative space to one-third positive. The figure-ground, not just reversals, but in both bodies of work, I really like when the figure and ground are sort of switching off. Sometimes I can think of an Alex Katz painting or Bonnard, where the figure really becomes almost like the background. I’m really interested in them … The painting’s always moving back and forth with that... The main difference for me is the abstract paintings I allow myself to paint over and over and change entirely. With observational paintings, I give myself this rule, not always and it’s not super strict, but 99% of the time, I start and finish them in the same day. They’re alla prima, one-shot paintings."
Hunter Braithwaite interviews painter Dale McNeil, whose show Material Will: Force In Form is on view at Tops Gallery, Memphis through May 31, 2015.
McNeil comments: "A part of my painting process involves placing a step—a phase or transitional level—between the traditional applications of paint to canvas. I take impressions from paintings in process, propagating the next work and allowing organic growth to a similar image. This method introduces the next version or variation. The process is rather clumsy and inaccurate but allows for aspects of randomness and chance, countering the restrictions I set for myself and allowing for a new unique composition."
Julie L. Belcove interviews painter Cecily Brown whose work will be on view at Maccarone Gallery, New York through June 20, 2015.
Brown comments: "With the small ones ... I’d deliberately not get back from them and look, then at the end of the day be like, Whoa! It had become this very dense world, teeming with activity — a little like putting your face close to the grass and realizing all the activity. You see how much is going on in one square inch. I think, in these, I realized more than ever how important it is for me to have a definite figural thought in mind as I work. For me, when it gets purely abstract, it gets decorative. I need to have the sort of weight behind the mark that I’m trying to say something specific."
Susan Silas interviews painter Joan Semmel. Across Fives Decades, a retrospective of Semmel's work is on view at Alexander Gray Associates, New York, through May 16, 2015.
Semmel comments: "I never thought of myself, when I switched over, as a 'figurative painter.' Never. I never made the break. I was never figural. What I was looking for were images that were iconic. I was looking for ways of making images that women would see as sexual for them, and so I wanted those images to register, and that is part of why I left the abstraction behind — because the abstract images are more diffuse... I knew that in taking that step I was isolating myself more and more from the mainstream of painting, and I was trying to find the bridge to connect to the mainstream also. So, by using both ways of working, I was hoping to establish that bridge. So for me, the abstraction was the external... The abstraction was the connection to the culture. And the image was an internal expression of what I was feeling."
Belag comments: "I use brushes, rags, knives, and I do walk around the painting in order to have a continuous stroke... I think that gesture is somewhat misunderstood and I don't think it's what my work is about. Although it is a way of getting yourself into the painting. Is a gesture walking around, or is a gesture what my arm is doing? What meaning does that have? It's all about - you've got this paint and you've got this surface and how do you get it on there? (that's what Frank Stella said) - and keep the color fresh and doing what color wants to do, which is sit in space."
Salle comments: "The main quality of image culture is its relentlessness. My experience of my own work is somewhat different. Of course we all grow up awash in images, more or less meaningless, transitory. No doubt that’s in my head, just like everyone else, but I’m interested in trying to make something where the images matter, not as bits of random stuff, but as form. Recently someone was telling me what a young artist said about their work, noting that the same thing has been said about mine, that they like to have the TV on, and the radio, and they’re playing a video game, and so on—saturation and overload being the point. I said, 'stop right there.' In the first place I don’t watch TV, and I never play video games; I’m a noise-phobe and I can’t do two things at once. I mean, I’m not a Luddite, I have all the modern devices, but so far they haven’t changed the nature of the stuff that matters, at least to me. The images I use in my work are specific; they’re not random. They’re not from all over the place; they’re from certain places."
Ellen Gamerman interviews painter Alex Katz whose work is on view at Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York, through June 13, 2015.
Gamerman begins: "One morning. That’s how long it takes Alex Katz to start—and finish—a painting. This high-speed routine has repeated itself many mornings, for many years. Such remarkable productivity would be a feat for any artist, but especially an 87-year-old whose towering pictures demand exacting brushwork across canvases that span entire walls."
Bienvenu comments: "If you get personal in the work it’s more likely to resonate in a universal way. My friends show up in the paintings, drinking buddy as muse. They all start as automatic drawing, abstract marks and then I see an image in the mess and it seeps up from the mud. I lay in some colors and start to see an ex-girlfriend peeing or a bearded buddy sitting at a bar so I let it happen and if I like looking at it, the image sticks around. A huge part of it is communicating my feelings; humor is a great way to deal with anxiety and fear. Also the lapsed Catholic thing, live your life, that plays some role in the imagery I’m sure."
Jennifer Samet interviews painter Jason Karolak whose work is on view in the group exhibition Full Tilt at Novella Gallery, New York, through May 10, 2015.
Karolak comments: "I want to have one form in the painting at the end. It may have multiple elements or a network-like feel. But I still want it to read as a thing, albeit an abstract thing, as opposed to a completely allover field with no hierarchy... The forms in my paintings are distillations of the process, and an internal logic is created through color and drawing. It is specific to each painting. They start in fragmented fields of color and line. And then I put several of these elements back together, building something new."
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.