Kate Connolly profiles painter Imi Knoebel, whose work is on view at White Cube Bermondsey, London through September 13, 2015.
Connolly writes: "Knoebel’s Drachen Serie (kite series) is arguably the highlight of the White Cube show in London. Seven kites – light, bright aluminium shapes that hover high up on the eight-metre wall – take up one room. Nine other works – aluminium shapes and mirrors, in fluorescents and pastels – fill another. A piece called Ort-Rosa (rose place) resembles the open corner of a room, inviting you to step inside. And there are several hovering paintings, simply nam"ed Bild (picture), that look as if a Malevich had been made out of wax and left in the sun to melt."
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."
Reed: "Painting is really good at absorbing the world around it. This used to be thought of as a weakness and people thought that painting had to be purified and become just itself. Such a stupid idea. It’s good that painting absorbs everything around itself. It makes painting alive, part of the world that it’s in. Painting especially loves other media. It’s great that painting can absorb other media. Paintings have this intense symbiotic relationship with film and digital media and photography. I mean, they used to think photography would destroy painting. But instead it’s as if photography is the vampire that has bitten painting. The vampire’s kiss of photography, instead of killing painting, has made it another vampire, immortal."
Heilmann: " I like to think of the subject matter and the image in a painted picture in the same way, and I’m getting a lot of my ideas and inspirations from commercials. They’re so brilliant, how they’re made and how they’re timed. So I don’t think it’s dead, painting; I don’t think film and TV are going to kill it. Because the kind of work you go through in making paintings, like ruminating and thinking, and actually using your hands, that’s a big difference from other mediums."
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."
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."
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."
Faith McClure interviews painter Alex Katz on the occasion of the exhibition Alex Katz, This Is Now at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, on view through September 6, 2015.
Katz comments: "Style makes everything cohesive. The old guys said style becomes content and content becomes form. That’s the abstract expressionism bible. In my paintings, style is not form. There’s this interview with Francesco Clemente where we argue. He thinks it’s form, but I think style is the real content... Willpower and character, and trusting yourself and the parts of yourself that don’t make sense. Painting is sort of like a community activity. You represent a lot of people when you paint. It’s not a genius thing. It’s a collective thing. And the other part of it is that you have an idea of what art should be, and you hang onto that. It changes its faces. Dealing with something like reality, you’re dealing with a variable. So every solution you make is obsolete, and you have to make another solution."
Kalm observes that "Swain's sophisticated system of color tones, and spatial relations is a unique direction of investigation, with an obsessive side that boarders on the eccentric. This suite of large paintings, produced specifically for the new Minus Space, provide viewers with an essential view of the artist's achievements."
Gordon Stillman interviews painter Jane Irish whose show Faience and Firenze was recently on view at Locks Gallery, Philadelphia.
Stillman introduces the interview by noting: "I am drawn to the way Irish works, painting en plein air and creating her own source material to remake on ceramics and large canvases. This allows her to re-see, and therefore rework older material to make it new again––to make the past relevant in a new way to the present and to develop new connections between people and places. The work in Faience and Firenze consisted of en plein air paintings from Florence, ceramic bowls, and several larger canvases painted with the natural light in her studio."
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.