Sheryl Oppenheim interviews painter Tess Bilhartz whose exhibition Purple Nights was recently on view at Arts + Leisure, New York.
Bilhartz remarks: Narrative is something that I’ve always been interested in. I read a lot of fiction and movies and dramas, but I never really found a way to make it a part of my work. One of the things that I really fell in love with about that project [collborative film project with Holly Veselka] was that it suddenly freed me up to bring in everything that I had ever been interested in and it throw it at one project. And I think this work [Purple Nights] really comes out of that. That collaborative project helped me to see a way forward as a painter."
Christopher Joy and Zachary Keeting visit the studio of painter Albert Kresch.
Kresch comments: "Light is maybe the second most important thing in a painting for me... space [is first] ... I studied very early with [Hofmann] I was 18 in 1942 and 43... Push and pull didn't interest me... I wanted to hurl the spectator off the surface [into] space."
Callander comments: "I’m not a certain-minded or directed painter but I am a confident painter. In other words, I never really know what I’m doing but am confident I’ll be able to find my way in the end. This kind of uncertainty allows for richly painted surfaces. I scrape, sand, wipe, scratch my paintings – subtracting paint happens about as often as adding paint. In moments of frustration I also spit on them, step on them or smear food into them so that they don’t shut me out. That sounds weird but there’s a strange control dynamic that painters know about and deal with in different ways. There comes a point when the painting starts talking back and telling you what it needs to be finished. That’s a dangerous time because doors start closing, avenues of discovery and spontaneity disappear. And one can just proceed on the easiest path towards completion – the one they have trod before. I detest that feeling and so fight to be open to a painting flipping to completion in an instant."
Greenwold comments: "I'm a formalist... I still feel like my language is essentially a formalist language, essentially a language of abstraction because my paintings I feel are very much abstractions; they're not narratives from my point of view. They're not telling a story because paintings can't tell stories as far as I'm concerned... figurative paintings in the history of art notwithstanding, I feel paintings is what Bacon said it was: 'a moment trapped.' ... I wouldn't be able to tell you what this painting's about specifically, because it really isn't about anything specifically. It's more about this cacophony of stuff that's meant to be as agitated as I feel, or as complicated."
Robin Scher interviews painter Thomas Nozkowski on the occasion of his exhibition of Works on Paper at Pace Gallery, New York, on view through March 26, 2016.
Nozkowski remarks: "We tend to get obsessed with language and the information that can be carried by language. But I think long before men spoke, certainly before they wrote things down, they had a visual language and understanding of the world. A certain color meant a certain kind of weather was coming, a broken branch meant lunch just walked by. Or even—this is one that always gets me—you’re standing on a street and you’re looking three blocks away and there’s this little moving dot and somehow you just know it’s your best friend. There’s no way you could see enough to know that, but somehow by the presence of this dot in the world, you can read it. I think that’s our deep understanding of the visual of the world."
Crystal "Kitty" Shimski interviews painter Dennis Kardon, whose exhibition Reflections on the Surface is on view at Valentine Gallery, Ridgewood, Queens, through April 3, 2016.
Asked about skill in art Kardon comments: "It is a word that has become vastly misunderstood when applied to painting. The problem with the word is that it implies an action that has been repeated so often that it becomes unconsidered, and which in painting implies not being in the moment. A flaw in spontaneity; spontaneity being the wonder of painting, both in doing it and looking at it. The wonder of a moment of human consciousness frozen in time. But one's power in painting depends on building upon certain knowledges that have been accumulated through experience and from studying other paintings, in order to express nuances of feeling. Nuances of the 'flawed fucked up truth' as you put it. Just fucking up doesn't express the truth, there has to be a yearning for grace, in order to experience the ache of its absence. And this is skill of a different order."
In her introduction Samet notes: "Although Gilliam is best known for his 'Drape' paintings—unstretched canvases stained in vibrant pigments and extended into three-dimensional space—the surfaces of the paintings he has made over a fifty-plus-year career are actually quite diverse. They include the “Black” and “White” paintings: dense thickets of monochrome paint, with collaged, cut and reused canvas additions. Gilliam has also worked extensively with multi-panel paintings in enamel on aluminum with plywood structures."
Leslie Wayne interviews painter Elena Sisto whose exhibition Afternoons is on view at Lori Bookstein Fine Art, New York, through April 23, 2016.
Sisto comments: "Cubism has been quite important to me. I see it as the last great innovation in pictorial structure. The concepts of Cubism are extremely provocative. They open up a huge amount of freedom to paint what, where, how and when you want, not to mention painting what is otherwise unseen. I don’t think we’ve played this out yet by any means. ... I don’t exactly think of my work as coming out of cartoon space or as flat... I think of the space as compressed and the imagery influenced by cartoons. The Post Modern element is in the imagery."
Fisher comments: "I think one of the most interesting questions in a painting practice is how to be simultaneously of the present in the work and at the same time speak to a well-articulated lineage. This binary is at the core of painting, as it is essential to develop the ability to move fluidly through an ascetic relationship to influence and an immersion with in it... Work that relies on thematic concerns of an era can be limited in its consideration of the universal. Painters such as Morandi have the most revolutionary of paintings as they function outside of their epoch of making. They function on a level that is outside of dichotomy. While polemical modes of argument are useful as a way to amplify distinctions within a range of considerations, a painting is not an opinion on a scale, it is an ineffable investigation which is a result of an engagement with simultaneous phenomena. Abstraction is both a structure and a language and does not negate representation, rather it is at its core."
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.