Yau writes: "There is the faintest hint of anguished tension running through Belcourt’s paintings, which belies the solid planes of color filling her surfaces. At one point, I began focusing on the fissures and gaps spreading through her tightly constructed compositions. Later, I isolated her discrete paeans to light, as in the elongated, buttery yellow, geometric slivers seen on the tops of two blocks in 'Mound 3' (2011–12). My attention kept shifting and refocusing. Her paintings are full of particular instances embedded within larger views. The strain between unity and disruption is ceaseless, but, contrary to what you might expect from such pressure, it leads to all kinds of visual celebrations, odes and, yes, even lamentations. There is a depth of feeling to these paintings that, much to her credit, Belcourt has refused to trivialize."
Shirine Saad posts Pierre Soulages: Outrenoir, a short film by Barbara Anastacio that features the painter discussing his work in his Paris Studio.
In the video interview, conducted by Saad, Soulages comments: "...it's the light that's the real tool! Because it's always whatever is happening in the canvas that directs me. The reality of a work of art, it's a triple relationship between the thing, that is, the painting, the man who proposed it, the man who made it, and whomever looks at it... Which is to say, the one who looks at it is part of the work itself."
Soulages also tells Saad: "It always amuses me when people say that painting is over; I have never believed this. Prehistoric men went deep into the darkest caves and painted in total obscurity. Painting belongs to human nature. It is instinctive. But if it doesn’t happen within ourselves then it’s only decorative art. It is like love, something that belongs to our soul."
Maria Calandra visits the studio of painter Saira McLaren whose exhibition a day and the night will be on view at Sargent's Daughters, New York from January 8 - February 8, 2015.
Calandra notes: "Like much good painting, McLaren's deceptively effortless process convinces the viewer that the cool and composed serenity of the canvas comes from no more then a few moments of deliberation. In actuality it is a collaboration of many thoughtful moments, pure pigment stains and perfectly timed drying sessions that eventually lead to her paintings' satisfying end results. This is where spending an evening drawing (and watching out of the corner of my eye) allows me the added benefit of changing my perception of how things are made. The saturated layers of color seem to dance on the surface while simultaneously being sucked deep into the canvas textures."
Butler notes that: "Although she works abstractly, Joelson is fiercely interested in politics and current events, and the daily agitation prompted by the news informs her work. We had a long conversation about the aesthetic choices artists make, and how those choices can be rooted in matters well outside the history of painting. She showed me one series on paper that references newspapers, and her use of Islamic patterning quietly but clearly reflects her ongoing concern about the dire political challenges of the Middle East... Process has independent meaning for Joelson: how she creates images and objects is as important as they are."
Christopher Joy and Zachary Keeting visit the studio of painter Alison Hall.
Hall remarks that while the subject may be veiled in an abstract painting, its feeling gets "embedded into the work. I think the spirit of that can be felt in an abstract way. It's not like you can identify it or name it, but I think there are feelings inside of [the paintings] that when you view them you get close to that experience."
In a recent statement, Hall wrote: "One would think that, in making paintings about pattern, there would be a defined beginning and end, an image that’s certain and void of breathing room. But that’s wrong. I feel as if I never know the ending. The mistakes keep you from knowing the ending."
Maria Calandra visits the studio of painter Jason Stopa.
Calandra writes: "I was first taken by blasts of color, animated brush strokes, and confectionery connotations. After spending more time with them, Stopa's paintings' unique relationship to language reveals itself, recalling Haiku poetry in particular. They have a similar directness of description, even in their abstraction, that almost hovers above their subject matter. With as few as three parts coming together in many of his newer works, he is able to simply but potently construct a perspective for the viewer, similar to the way a poem would for a reader. And his use of certain symbolic characters as a verbal punctuation mark is a perfect way to signal the moment that the juxtaposed elements coalesce."
Jennifer Samet interviews painter Judy Rifka about her work and career.
Rifka comments: "In dance, you are in a place, then you think about where you want to go, and then you go there. You make a body out of your intentions of where you want to go, and that is a physical connection. In painting, you put one thing down, then you think about where you want to put another thing, and so on. After that, it looks like some kind of space is built up. Hans Hofmann talked about this. However, there is no actual space in painting: that space always becomes an emotional connection. Making a physical connection of your intention is the same as growth, the same as how any form works, how a pseudopod works, how evolution works. You decide where you want to go, you go there, and then you build a body to go there. This becomes the form. So the space disappears, and a form, or a body, comes out of it.... Socrates said, 'I listen to my oracles.' That idea — that we have a voice inside our head telling us what to do — you listen to that. In painting, I listen to it."
Zachary Keeting and Christopher Joy visit the studio of painter Marina Adams.
Adams comments: "I don't like to dictate too much, I like to 'allow.' ... [in abstract art] you create a space for thought as opposed to dictating a thought... The work feeds itself; the work leads me along. So in that respect it's very different. There is work where people have an idea and then they fabricate it, and that's one way of working. This work is not produced in that way... I have ideas about things but I do also like to have the work inform me."
Christopher Joy and Zachary Keeting visit the studio of painter Paul Behnke.
Asked about the pleasure inherent in the experience of pure color, Behnke comments: "I think of my color as more anxiety... color can serve as a segue into the work... the color makes them more accessible... an then ... when things settle down and you spend more time with the piece it starts to be a little grating." Expressing a preference for more traditional picture space versus an all-over approach to abstraction, Behnke notes: "I don't like a lot of chaos ... I want there to be important forms and then lesser forms, important colors and lesser colors. I want there to be that hierarchy in the imagery."
John Bunker, Anthony Smart, Anne Smart, Robin Greenwood, Sarah Greenwood, Alexandra Harley, Patrick Jones, Sam Cornish, Mark Skilton, Hilde Skilton, and Nick Moore visit the studio of painter Emyr Williams.
Alexandra Harley: The "passage of colour isn’t just pure. It may be a pure colour all the way through but the juxtapositions of the other colours around it are changing that colour immensely."
Anne Smart: "I know [Williams' paintings] are going to be about colour, but If I try to forget that, what comes out really strongly is how they make me feel… and I’m minded to think of a painting that relates to both of them: Monet’s 1860 “Women the Garden”, and what that does for me, and what I have always felt strongly about, is the light in it; and both these paintings articulate what light does, and I feel a strong presence of that light and what that sensation can give you spatially."
Robin Greenwood: "The elements in the painting are so much more demanding than one stripe next to another. I feel I’ve seen that sort of thing before – you know, beautifully coloured stripes… but here, I’ve never seen anything quite like this before."
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.