Bunker writes: "... the ‘Black Pourings’ that are the throbbing dark heart of this exhibition. Crude materiality and brooding imagery seems to be answering something very different but equally ‘… deep seated in contemporary sensibility.’ Pollock’s ‘gothic- ness’ that had always disturbed Greenberg re-emerges to assert its power. But these black works have gained some kind of momentum, some new kind of febrile and focused intensity. They seem to be an attempt at extreme synthesis rather than meticulous refinement; a synthesis of personal obsessive renderings of the fragmented body, that had always lay hidden in the ‘all-over’ works, combined with, and intensified by, the technical innovations he had made while working upon the drip-based paintings."
McNay writes: "it might be suggested that his lack of direct contact with the canvas meant there was no intermediary between it and the content of his mind – his canvas could be said to be at one with his mind. Even these seemingly chaotic paintings were the result of careful consideration, however. Pollock would often stand and contemplate his progress, and he spoke of the need to 'get acquainted' with the work and the importance of not 'losing contact' with it. For me, there is an absolute serenity to his contained chaos."
Ashberry observes: "The relation of [Mitchell's] painting and that of other Abstract-Expressionists to nature has never really been clarified. On the one hand there are painters who threaten you if you dare let their abstract landscapes suggest a landscape. On the other hand there are painters like Joan Mitchell who are indifferent to these deductions when they are not actively encouraging them. Is one of these things better or worse than the other, and ought abstract painting to stay abstract? ... What then is the difference between, say, Joan Mitchell’s kind of painting and a very loose kind of landscape painting? ... Is this then figurative painting, and if so what is the meaning of the term Abstract-Expressionism? The answer seems to be that one’s feelings about nature are at different removes from it. There will be elements of the things seen even in the most abstracted impression; otherwise the feeling is likely to disappear and leave an object in its place. At other times feelings remain close to the subject, which is nothing against them; in fact, feelings that leave the subject intact may be freer to develop, in and around the theme and independent of it as well. This seems to be the case in Girolata—for once the feelings were a reflection of the precise look of the creek, or cliff, or whatever; nevertheless it is this reflection rather than the memory it suggests that remains the dominating force of the painting."
Sassoon writes: "Like the best painting from cave art onwards, Still’s work is as alive and raw as if made today. His characteristic lightning shapes are a bit like the flashes that follow on the heels of Superman. They direct the eye, they activate the composition; actually they are the composition. They suggest a rip or wound in the skin of the paint, something damaged or hurt, while at the same time opening a window of light and color in the otherwise emptiness or murky impasto of the canvas. Still must have gone through countless gallons of black. Either pessimistically or optimistically, the rips and flashes seem to reveal an intimacy and vulnerability, creating a touching counterpoint to the bravado and strong ego that the work communicates — if you are open to being touched by it."
Yau begins: "Robert Motherwell didn’t believe that Pablo Picasso or Henri Matisse were figures to be overthrown. Instead of trying to triumph over them, he was convinced that he could expand upon their innovations. Moreover, he felt that if he tackled the same issues that they wrestled with, he could achieve something that was all his own. This was his big gamble, but, to my mind, it paid off. Instead of reacting against these European masters, a rebellion that surely propelled a number of postwar American artists to jettison the paintbrush along with drawing, spatiality, and composition, Motherwell regarded Picasso and Matisse as cornerstones to build upon."
Malone writes: "Though Flack has become an artist with an impressive career as a representational painter, and later a sculptor of public monuments, her early experiments in abstract painting — like those of Pat Passlof, shown at Elizabeth Harris last year — mirror and impersonate the classic AbEx look. The surprise of the Flack exhibition, however, is in how far and in how many ways she was able to transcend the many signature traits of the group. For such a young artist, Flack had the uncanny ability to surmount influence in a multiplicity of styles, even anticipating in some measure de Kooning’s 1970s East Hampton period with her 'Figures and Trees for Bill' (1949–50), while a short time later reaching back to Cezanne with 'Grapefruits I' (1954) and along the way finding paths into abstract painting that are surprisingly reminiscent of more recent solutions."
Jeremy Harding reviews and exhibition of works by Richard Diebenkorn at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, on view March 14 - June 2, 2015.
Harding concludes: "The last room celebrates Diebenkorn’s return to abstract painting. We’ve understood by now that his career was not a single, mechanical oscillation from abstract through figurative and back, but a long argument with himself, and others, about different ways to make a good painting. The grandiose Ocean Park canvases seem to cut that conversation short with a monumental flourish. They’re hung to drive home the point: standing at the entranceway you have a sense of cool, early morning coastal light, as you pick out louvred bands of colour and big squares a bit like cotton blinds: pale blues, greens and yellows, adorned with a livery of fine lines, mostly in a lower key. You move in, the bands flatten, and your next impression is of large, translucent openings in the gallery walls, like stained glass windows (all that’s missing are the pews); the paint is weightless."
For the show, Zinsser created new work in response to abstract expressionsit painter Theodoros Stamos. Commenting on the process Zinsser notes that half of the challenge was "[a]pproaching how we create these romantic mythologies with these artists. But the other half is: What was it that launched our own painting out of the issues of abstract expressionism? For me, it always means making paintings that are event-driven, something where you’re looking for an image that will emerge out of the painting process itself. Also, materiality. Or moving things into large scale. So all of those are specific painting issues carrying directly over... I wasn’t looking at the specific paintings that were going to be in the show when I painted my paintings. I had more of my own idea of what a Stamos painting looked like. I mean I had looked at catalogues and monographs and so forth. But it was more an imagined idea of what they looked like. So it was surprising that when they actually came together, they did have these very specific resonating compositional and color relationships. Which is great. It really made it much more a present-tense open thought-inquiry that makes you re-see Stamos in a surprising way. I hope."
Sultan writes: "There is so much life in these drawings; they don't stay still politely, but have a continuing pulsing energy. The drawings remind me of the looser forms of Asian calligraphy, which require many years of study in order to have the knowledge to use free brushwork... I see a similar sensibility in the Lyric Suite drawings and the Open series, with their forms inhabiting large spaces, floating within them. There is a great respect for the ground plane and its strong presence; the artist's entry into it is as collaboration, not dominance."
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.