Sharon Butler blogs about Joan Waltemath: One does not negate the other at Hionas Gallery, New York, on view through March 14, 2015.
Butler writes: "Centuries ago, artists were a bit like chemists, mixing secret recipes for binders and varnishes that least would affect the lightfast quality of their pigments and the surfaces of their canvases. Joan Waltemath, who has a handsome show of abstract paintings on view at Hionas this month, is something of a throwback to those times, grinding her own pigments, experimenting with minerals, concocting mediums, and undertaking other painting-related investigations. The resulting paintings are elegant and spare in terms of imagery, which is based on mathematically-generated harmonic grids, but rich and complex with respect to surface and color."
Kalm notes that Valentine's "show presents many small scaled paintings featuring the artist's heavily worked surfaces, and rich warn pallet. There's a sly, mischievous quality to the work due to the artist's knowingly tweaking and manipulation accepted painterly tropes, and genres."
Goodman writes that Bradley’s paintings "communicate feeling above all else. Often looking like cloudscapes, and usually occurring in a dark, midnight blue, Bradley’s pictures summon visions of endlessness on a cosmic spiritual level. Her work is open to contemplation and deeply felt experience; the paintings are mystical in nature and suggest the sky, the ocean — places where one finds and retrieves the self in heightened circumstances." Goodman contines, noting that Bradley's "independence as a painter is notable, in large part because she is so determined to present an undertow of feeling and force through abstraction alone. Interestingly, though, the radical self-containment of Bradley’s paintings often opens up to sweeping vistas that relate to the infinite. So the works have the tendency to switch back and forth between closed and open states. Thus, Bradley’s broad horizons issue forth from a relatively narrow spectrum of expression; the paintings are closely related, and their cumulative effect on the viewer is striking."
Joanne Mattera blogs about the exhibition Territory of Abstraction at Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia, on view through April 4, 2015. The show features works by Steven Baris, Rob de Oude, Edgar Diehl, Gabriele Evertz, Kevin Finklea, Enrico Gomez, Brent Hallard, Gilbert Hsiao, Gracia Khouw, Joanne Mattera, Mel Prest, and Debra Ramsay.
The post includes a Q&A with Mattera and gallery owner Christine Pfister. Asked whether the works in the exhibition can be called "reductive? Post-minimalist? Abstract?," Mattera replies: "Abstraction is our umbrella. Reductivism is for many of us both the path and the objective. As a group we do not make fussy art, although it may be referential. If by “post-minimalism" we understand that the aesthetic of the 1960s is being brought into a new century—a new millennium—with a broader sense of what’s possible in reductive work, then yes, we’re post-minimalists. Our reductive tendencies don’t adhere rigidly to industrial coolness or the anonymity of manufacture of a previous generation. We engage color, material, layers, process. Some of our work is quite sensuous."
Eric Holzman remembers painter Jake Berthot (1939-2014).
Holzman writes: "Since Jake came to landscape painting from a different angle than everyone else, that is abstract painting, I imagine the grids provided a scaffold upon which he could build and construct his compositions. They must have made the space between things seem palpable and real, measurable in some way. With them in place, he could more readily move and feel his way through the warp and flow of form and space. Jake came to the sensuality of landscape and representation not through direct observation, but through abstraction and geometry which was also real to him. I bet he saw, felt or sensed those grids underlying the physical world, connecting and flowing through everything that we inhabit... For me, taken as a whole, [Berthot's] work was an expression of faith and philosophy. It is a treatise on a way of being in the world of consumption and competition. It is an alternative to irony. Jake's work attempts to build a bridge to another way of being, to the sacred. Sometimes, I think he got deeper into hidden worlds than anyone since Cezanne. For Jake painting was a portal, a transporter to other dimensions where the line between life and death fades."
Sharon Butler reviews my current show of recent paintings at Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, on view through March 28, 2015.
Butler writes: "Brett Baker's new small-scale paintings at Elizabeth Harris are a little bigger than the ones in his last show, and they continue his exploration of line, thickly layered paint, and color. Several years ago, when Baker moved from a good-sized studio to a small apartment in New York, he decided to apply the same effort to miniature abstractions that he had previously invested in mural-size work. The resulting series, which he continued when he eventually relocated to North Carolina and began the blog Painters' Table, are intellectually enigmatic. By the same token, though, the rich blue palette (many of the paintings are simply titled 'Night Studio') is visually hypnotic, and the heady scent of linseed oil (some are still wet) cuts directly to the heart... Through excessive reworking and overpainting, he manages to push each painting beyond generic abstraction to something more personal--an unusually earnest approach in an era when the look of effortlessness and a slapdash sensibility tend to prevail."
Sultan writes: "This has rarely happened to me, but when I saw John Zurier's show 'West of the Future', currently at Peter Blum Gallery, my awed reaction wasn't just 'I love these paintings', but 'I want to make these paintings'. Their quiet attentiveness, simplicity, attention to surface and materials, their qualities of light and mood, led to a physical longing on my part: a longing to feel the paint, whether distemper (glue size and pigment) or oil; to make the marks; a longing to mix the colors and spread them on fine or coarse canvas. In Hearadsdalur 3, the blue ground is a translucent dark, as of a luminous evening. Each line, each small mark of white, although looking casual, feels carefully considered, and very alive."
David Salle reviews The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, on view through April 5, 2015. The show features works by works by Richard Aldrich, Joe Bradley, Kerstin Brätsch, Matt Connors, Michaela Eichwald, Nicole Eisenman, Mark Grotjahn, Charline von Heyl, Rashid Johnson, Julie Mehretu, Dianna Molzan, Oscar Murillo, Laura Owens, Amy Sillman, Josh Smith, Mary Weatherford, and Michael Williams.
Salle writes: "In her desire to connect everything to a narrative of the digital future, [curator Laurar] Hoptman misses the salient difference between the best work here and its immediate antecedents: a sense of structure. By structure I don’t mean only relational composition—though that plays a part—but more generally the sense of a painting’s internal rationale, its 'inside energy,' as Alex Katz would say, that alignment of intention, talent, and form. Hoptman wants to make a clean break for her crew from the mores of 'appropriation,' but again, the emphasis seems misplaced. Appropriation—as a style—had a tendency to stop short, visually speaking. The primary concern was with 'presentation' itself, and the work that resulted was often an analog for the screen, or field, something upon which images composed themselves into some public/private drama. Appropriation pointed to something—some psychological or cultural condition outside of the work itself—that was the basis of its claim to criticality and, at its best, excavated something deep in the psyche. But there are other things in life. At present, painting is focused on structure, discovering and molding pictorial form for its own sake."
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."
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.