Christopher Masters pens an obituary for painter Sheila Girling (1924 - 2015).
Masters writes that Girling's "final decades were a period in which [she] produced works of an impressive emotional range within a clearly defined, highly abstracted style. Her use of acrylic was combined with a penchant for collage, the technique through which, according to her own account, she 'found' herself. Collage gave her paintings a tactile quality and an engagement with the world outside the art studio, but she also practised in the more traditional and characteristically English medium of watercolour. In this way she recreated the forms and light of nature while never abandoning her modernist aesthetic."
Nicole Rudick remembers painter Jane Wilson (1924 - 2015) who passed away this week.
Rudick writes: "The strata of distant land in [Wilson's] paintings lie like silt at the bottom of a river and remind me of the colored stripes of earth in Malevich’s Red Cavalry. 'I have conquered the lining of the colored sky,' he once wrote. 'I have plucked the colors, put them into the bag I have made, and tied it with a knot.' Because Wilson’s big skies are so abstractly rendered, with only hints of land and wisps of clouds, they are more like hymns to color than representations of places. Her work has been compared to Mark Rothko’s clouds of color, but they also closely resemble Monet’s landscapes, if you removed the people, the haystacks, the boats, and the trees. They have all the variation and mood of a Turner painting, but none of the violent intensity, none of the outsize drama. James Schuyler characterized Wilson as 'the eclectic, cultivated artist, whose nineteenth-century hero is Delacroix.' I like the way Wilson herself once expressed the affinity: 'And Delacroix, Delacroix, Delacroix.'"
Elisa Jensen remembers painter Jake Berthot (1939-2014) who passed away on December 30, 2014.
Jensen concludes: "With Jake’s passing on December 30 we have lost a wonderful man, and a brilliant artist. But the paintings that he used his freedom to create continue to live among us. As Auden wrote in his elegy for Yeats: “…he became his admirers. Now he is scattered over a hundred cities, and wholly given over to unfamiliar affections…” We will miss the man no small amount, and for no short time. But Jake, as a painter, has, indeed, become his admirers, and there are enough of us who feel an altogether familiar affection for his work to be certain that his accomplishments will be celebrated for a long, long time to come."
Reprint of a classic John Ashbery review of Jane Freilicher's 1975 show at Fischbach Gallery, New York. Freilicher passed away earlier this week.
Ashbery notes that: "The swift transition from style to style is one of the most remarkable things in Freilicher's painting. The denotative and connotative jostle each other, with no fixed boundaries; a rough tangle of brushwork menaces a sleekly realistic passage. A field as minutely painted as Ruysdael would have done it leads to a cloud on the horizon which really isn't a cloud but a brushstroke. 'Non-representational' painting is always lurking in the background, or the foreground for that matter, of an ostensibly straightforward account of a landscape, and of course landscape is like that; the eye deals with some of it and neglects the rest. Other painters have made the point, but in Jane Freilicher's case the transitions are so gradual, the differences so close, that her grammar of styles can easily go unnoticed. The viewer imagines he is looking at an 'objective' account of trees or a table top without realizing that they have been dismantled and put back together again almost seamlessly."
William Grimes writes about painter Jane Freilicher who passed away December 9, 2014.
Grimes writes: "Although Ms. Freilicher ... studied with Hans Hofmann , the influential teacher and theorist of abstraction, she put her expressionist style of paint-handling and all-over approach to the canvas at the service of recognizable images, a course that made her an outsider in an era dominated by abstraction. Influenced by Bonnard, Vuillard and Matisse, she took as her subject matter the cityscape outside her Greenwich Village penthouse apartment, interiors with still life objects and, after she began spending summers in Water Mill, N.Y., in the 1950s, the marshes and potato fields of eastern Long Island. ... A romantic by temperament, she agreed wholeheartedly with the English painter John Constable’s famous remark that 'painting is but another word for feeling.' Her own works, she told ARTNews in 1985, were 'an emotional reaction to something I find beautiful in the subject, which provides the energy, the impetus to paint.'"
Florian writes: "Shapiro sometimes referred to 'allostasis' – stability through change – as a goal of his paintings and prints, with seemingly opposite or disparate forces uniting as one. I remember David relating to me how often a brushstroke on the canvas would coincide with the arc of his breath as he painted, outer connecting with inner, spiritual with material. A mark was not only an extension of his body, but of his very essence. He believed in painting as not only as expression of his self, but as a means to understand his non-self, all that wasn’t David Shapiro in the universe. His poise and steadfastness in this regard enabled him to create a body of work over the years that both evolved and held together. He achieved mastery but avoided the facile or the obvious."
Carl Belz remembers painter Jon Imber (1950-2014), posting a 1999 essay written for an exhibition of Imber's paintings at Boston University.
Considering Imber's early figure paintings, Belz notes: "The situations are conventional enough, but they are unconventionally presented. The figures look anxious and uncomfortable, they leer and grimace, their bodies awkwardly entangle one another, and their anatomies become suddenly exaggerated, appearing to have been shaped in response not to sight but to feeling. Incongruously, they are also naked, stripped and exposed like the barren landscapes and unadorned interiors they are made to occupy, causing both the spaces and the figures to seem equally forlorn, equally vulnerable. Yet, because they are so large in relation to the worlds they inhabit and so blunt in their nakedness -- so monumentally human -- the figures also assume an uncanny strength, as though, however common the activities they engage, they transform those activities to the level of timeless rituals, to a level of experience we all share."
Helen Little remembers painter Alan Davie (1920-2014) and posts a portion of Louise Cohen's 2009 interview with the artist. BP Spotlight: Alan Davie is on view at Tate Britain through September 14, 2014.
Little writes that early in the late 1940s "Davie set out to free himself from the conventions of picture making. Working quickly with boards and canvases packed around the walls and floor of his studio using large brushes and pots of liquid paint, he produced a body of work without any consideration for subject or form, discovering that images appeared to him in magical moments when he was completely surprised and ‘enraptured beyond knowing’... During the later 1960s when a younger generation of British artists were renegotiating action painting and moving towards post-painterly abstraction, Davie’s art began to shift towards a postmodern revival of figuration, narrative and mythology."
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.