Michael Rutherford writes about a selection of painters whose instincts are leading them to make work beyond the limits of "the plane."
Rutherford writes: "Professional skateboarders have a saying, 'skate how you feel, not how you should,' and the most experimental and engaging artists have always operated just like that - working how they feel, not how they should. Currently, I see painters and others asserting their freedom and pushing the progression of painting in increasingly fresher ways. Specifically, I’m noticing more loosely hung, sometimes radically altered or reattached swaths of canvas (among other things) without need of being held taut and hung into place by stretchers. In other examples, the stretcher bars remain, but they’ve been reconfigured in diverse ways with vastly different intentions. But in the most arcane instances, paint has been applied to other objects altogether: utensils, detritus, you name it. It’s clear there’s no further pushing of the picture plane here, but some rather bracing yet energizing examples of painting post-plane."
Pomerantz writes: "As he lead me through the marks and methods of the Triptych that day, Dinnerstein spoke with a peculiar detachment, as if the work was so great, so interwoven and dense, that it existed entirely on its own, beyond him. This first encounter with Dinnerstein left me wanting to know more about this man whose creation seemed almost to eclipse his entire being - where does an artist go from here?"
Perl writes that the press materials refer to "abstraction as 'a painting tradition that was once seen as essentially reductive' and 'monolithic and doctrinaire' - but has 'now become expansive.' In what sense were seminal abstract artists such as Kandinsky or de Kooning ever reductive? And what is more reductive than Warhol’s silly attempt at an all-over abstract painting included in this show, the bewilderingly boring 35-foot expanse of army surplus patterning entitled Camouflage? ...There is nothing in this show - neither the labyrinthine spatial visions of Julie Mehretu nor the impacted collage surfaces of Mark Bradford - that doesn’t have its origins in abstract painting long before Warhol got to work with his silkscreens."
Fendrich writes that "All serious painters, no matter the quality of their work, inevitably end up with a mature style. Although my compositions and colors change from one picture to the next, they don’t change so dramatically that they no longer resemble one another. You could say that my paintings resemble one another in the way that children in a given family, even when they have different heights, hair color and eye color, all manage to look as if they are related."
Paul Corio argues that the way forward for painting is to engage more meaningfully with its history.
Corio writes: "I know people having been writing about the death of the avant-garde for more than fifty years, but I mean it this time - it's exhausted, and this is not a tragedy; the vast majority of the world's great masterpieces have been made outside of this model. The avant-garde had a good run - more than a century - and was certainly responsible for some high-water marks, but that's over now." He continues: "So now that the avant garde is genuinely dead, what do we replace it with? Or more specifically, how do we replace its motives, so familiar and reflexive, taught at all the big schools and showed at the big institutions? I think a meaningful engagement with history is an excellent starting point..."
Robin Greenwood considers "an important and relevant question to ask (time and again) about abstract art: what does distinguish it from design?" He continues: "Matisse's late work does contribute quite prominently, if not iconically, to a certain strand in the conjunction of modernism and abstraction which blurs the distinction between art and design, and more specifically between abstract painting and the decorative and applied arts... I’ve always considered Matisse’s greatest contribution to art not his colour, which is undoubtedly exceptional, but his inventive painterly architectures reasserting what [painting] does (what, in a way, it has always done), what it delivers, by the act of continual reinvention; finding yet more new ways to keep it alive – and of course, keep it keenly separate from design and the applied arts even when in the act of using elements of those very disciplines to elaborate and enrich the spatial structures of his painting."
Muente writes: "Tonal shapes read harmoniously throughout. Grass plains flow and mysteriously turn into a stand of trees. Buildings in the village Inness handled in a similar fashion to an overturned log in the foreground. The trees taunt their color to the clouds, but otherwise share the same DNA, identical in size and shape as well as retaining the softness of their edges. The tree trunks divide and subdivide the picture plane in interesting variations. A lone tree illuminated by light on the right hand side resides at equal distances to the furthest yellow tree to the right and the tree against which our mysterious man leans in the middle of the painting.... On the far left side a swatch of sky, cloud bank and stand of trees are all about the same height, and completely interchangeable... Inness binds everything together. Cohesion is a constant in Inness's version of an October afternoon. Soft edges meld and wed forms. At times it is impossible to assess where one object ends and another begins."
Belz writes that "each [artist] has now been painting for more than four decades, and each has in the process periodically made ambitiously large pictures, as well as pictures that are frankly and unapologetically beautiful, candid in celebrating color as a vehicle of emotional content, intuitively smart in structuring its deployment to assure the content's credibility. Regularly inspired by their modernist past, yet at the same time unburdened by it, each has also looked periodically to nature, not in opposition to abstraction, which was the charge presented against painting nature in the 1950s, but as a resource for enriching it."
One year after the death of painter Lucian Freud - a year filled with exhibitions and tributes - Julian Cosma considers Freud's legacy.
Cosma writes: "There is an unsavory but persistent question that hangs around the neck of Freud's legacy: would he have been as renowned if his grandfather what not founded modern day psychoanalysis? Questions like this are inevitable, however, they come with there own pregnant version of an uncertainty principle. One could never give a dispassionate answer. However, it would not be impertinent to suggest that between Freud fils and Freud grand-père, a plausible case could be for, if not parity, at least a recognition that more penetrating insight was not necessarily gained from the patients laying on the Viennese sofa. Sometimes, it was on the deliciously ratty maroon divan, in London, where the greatest creations of the Freudian came into fruition."
Mark Stone muses on painting in an age where innovation of the medium is no longer possible.
Stone writes that "the absolute truth is that we can not do anything more to painting. The 600 or so years of Western painting has gone full circle. It's ALL been done – from a to z. And after the excesses of the 20th Century upon the body of painting what we are left with is the horror of a recombinant corpse... We've unstretched it, hung it like laundry, ripped it to pieces, sewn it back together, unpainted, anti-painted, photo-painted... Yet all of that nervous desperation to get to the last painting or the Ur-Painting is unsatisfying to those of us who love the medium, its history and possibility, but remain unwilling to join the current Postmodern monolith or the reactionary academics."
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.