An argument for painting's ongoing potential as a medium for social commentary.
"There is no reason for today’s painting - even in the age of multi-media, performance or interdisciplinary artists - to step down and limit its activity to what is believed to be its unaltered or eternal essence. The fixed image, may it be produced in drawing, painting or in print, can do much more than be 'content with a material-based practice.' All of the [works mentioned in the post] of traditional art share the following: they mastered their medium and they were socially relevant if not transformative. Why should not the same be true for painting and painters today?"
Ann Knickerbocker writes about painting that borrows from the traditions of observation and abstraction. She looks at the work of two painters, Keith Wilson, whose work is on view at Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin (through October 25) and Donald Teskey whose exhibition Nature Reserve was recently on view at Town Hall Gallery, Macroom, Co., Cork.
Knickerbocker notes "that representative painters form reference points that outline recognizable things, but these realists can not produce the things themselves; instead, they have perfected linear description. Abstract artists produce something that, in itself, stops our usual referring back to an 'other' object or state of feeling. Abstraction is meant to arrest our attention in the moment, as our attention would be held as we fall into extreme joy or sorrow. Painting at this moment in our history often seems confused, torn between the two approaches, neither of which is wholly adequate. It may be that the best of current art must bridge these two methods of perceiving and creating: the outline of the familiar combined with a more abstract grasp of feeling."
In a two part essay, Bernhard Gaul considers texts on Carpaccio (by Michel Serres and Andrey Tarkovsky) in relation to viewing Carpaccio's paintings.
Gaul writes: "Carpaccio doesn’t appear to be that high up on the hit list of currently popular painters. Even in Venice, the painter’s home town, his work appears to be marketed as something that is also there, in the shadow of much bigger names like Titian, Tintoretto, Tiepolo and Veronese or, of course, Canaletto – rather than a principle reason to visit. I assume this may have to do with the impression that in much of Carpaccio’s work painting bears all the hallmarks of a craft – it appears more rooted in community than being the domain of an eccentric individual (like Caravaggio or van Gogh), while we have become accustomed to expect that it takes the latter to create paintings of real meaning, that speak to us directly..."
Linsley writes: "The Plurimi of Emilio Vedova are clear precursors of Stella’s relief paintings, and the differences between the two groups of work are revealing. Vedova’s works had an origin in sets for an opera by Luigi Nono that he had done in 1961. The effort was to make an enveloping space, to place the viewer within the work... Vedova is trying to spread, to conquer space; Stella, as he has often said, stays pictorial, if pictorial means a kind of gathering of everything together in front of a ground plane."
Alan Fowler considers the grid from the viewer's perspective.
Fowler writes: "Most of the discussion about the use of the grid in abstract art has been from the position of the artist. Is a grid primarily a somewhat mechanical structuring device or can it be an integral element in the total image? Is it just a prop or can it be a form of self-imposed discipline that can generate imagery which the artist would never have created on a wholly intuitive basis?... But what of the viewer? Ultimately, the function of any work of art is surely for it to be looked at, and the aim is presumably to provide the viewer with a satisfying or stimulating visual experience. Do grids enhance or stifle this objective?"
John Elderfield considers the true meaning of Cézanne's interest in the painting Self Portrait or Portrait of Chardin Wearing an Eyeshade, 1775 by Jean-Siméon Chardin.
Elderfield writes: "we cannot dismiss the possibility that the unclear sentence in Cézanne’s unquestionably authentic letter on Chardin’s self-portrait is not, in fact, about a physical attribute of the pastel: the plane of light that carries across the bridge of the nose and allows the work’s range of tonal values better to be seen. It could well be about the practical purpose of the shade-creating visor depicted in the pastel..."
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."
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.