In a new video by Molly Davies, Pat Steir discusses her work while painting in her Vermont studio.
Steir addresses both her use of the drip as image:
"The idea of pouring the paint of the waterfall paintings was to use the icon of abstract painting, which is a drippy brushstroke, and make that abstract icon make an image all by itself. And that's what it did, it made an image of the waterfall... "
and painting as performance:
"The performative aspect, especially of the splash up paintings, is extreme. It's really a dance. It's really a ballet. And the picture is the record of the movement. It's a direct record of the movement."
Russeth writes: "Humphries’s work almost always feels like it could only be made right now, but her newest paintings are blanketed with especially contemporary signs: emoticons. (Another unusual sight in art.) She uses an industrial-grade cutting machine in her studio to punch the little guys into plastic stencils, which she uses to apply symbols onto canvas in dense grids. At a distance, you can’t quite make them out—they look like tiny dots, or maybe some sort of abstract map—but then you get closer and realize what you are looking at: :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) or :-/ :-/ :-/ :-/ :-/ :-/ :-/ :-/ :-/ flying across the picture plane over flat slashes of color."
I’ve been writing these September round-ups for a few years now, and I’ve almost always prefaced them with some note of astonishment at the sheer amount of abstract painting I was seeing in the galleries. I usually followed that with a reminder of just how little of it there was in the 90s and most of the naughties. But I’m making a few little changes starting now.
Painting has been back in the limelight long enough that those reminiscences are starting to become distant memories, war stories of a kind that make my painter friends under 40 glaze over – what the hell do they care about the days when everyone thought Matthew Barney was God and the Biennial was a series of video booths that resembled a peep show? Like my young friends who didn’t live through that, I’m just going to look back on it with a shrug, if at all.
The other small change is that I want to discuss some painting that isn’t strictly abstract. I’ve been seeing more loopy figures and semi-abstractions that interest me, and it just makes sense to broaden the discussion – it’s all painting after all.
So without further ado, here are some of the painting exhibitions that stood out from the crush of openings in NYC in September:
Phong Bui interviews painter Alfred Leslie on the occasion of the exhibition Alfred Leslie: 10 Men at Janet Borden Gallery, New York, on view through November 25, 2015.
Leslie comments: "I always felt people are open if you can catch them off guard. You can get them to see something that they may not have been able to see before. The idea was by making the paintings big, you eliminated all of the nuances of prettiness, which could be seen as distractions. If you can get their attention for even one second, perhaps even keep them from moving, just standing there looking, no matter where they’re from, the minute they ask, 'what’s going on?' You’ve got them! If you can get them to think about what it is they’re seeing, what it is they’re thinking about, it can perhaps lead to other thoughts about themselves or the world inside and the world outside. All of which are a part of the human condition for sure."
Noga writes: "Prolific and compelling, Beattie’s approach in sourcing easily-available materials pays dividends in these geometric dissolutions. The anti-digital aesthetic is combined with shimmering movement. The mechanics of the picture-making, and the way he manipulates the space, are reminiscent of the Cubists’ approach, in creating a new materialization in 1909-10. The momentum in a work like Untitled (2015) instantly reminds me of Braque’s herringbone shading in his evocative still life interiors. Beattie parallels that illusionist rhythm, creating complex effects in space, handling the individual sections and mismatches with a speed and differentiation of surface. The ‘papier colle’ technique Incorporated into the surface has an emphasis on materiality, its cinematic superstructure creating a destabilising environment."
About Evertz's paintings Mattera observes: "while the chromatic stripes are rigorously parallel, the grays are painted at an angle. That is to say that in the thickness of one stripe, two extremely acute angles of slightly different values are painted; what starts out thick at the top tapers to nothing at the bottom, while what starts out thick at the bottom tapers to nothing at the top. It's subtle but potent." Writing about the Hard Edge Painting show Mattera notes: "While the Washington painters worked largely on unprimed canvas, the Los Angeles group worked in oil, and the New Yorkers in acrylic. Medium may not be immediately or even necessarily apparent so much as the result, which is optically compelling both compositionally and chromatically."
Lani Asher reviews Jay DeFeo: Alter Ego at Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, on view through October 10, 2015.
Asher writes: "DeFeo’s metaphysical but concrete art functions in much the same way: the act of mirroring, or flipping images over and around, of changing black to white, of cutting through the surface of something, of changing liquid to solid, of waking and sleeping, of returning a different person to the place where you began your journey: such transformations are the very sensibilities of DeFeo’s art, not one of mere sentences but one of propositions, abstract, as direct as they are elusive, subtle, alive to indispensable distinctions."
Altoon Sultan blogs about Anne Truitt in Japan at Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, on view through October 24, 2015.
Sultan writes: "It is a great visual pleasure to see a show in which color is so saturated and rich that it transcends paint's mere physicality... In the first room of the gallery were five intensely colored small works on rice paper. The color was as though soaked into the textured paper, making an effect of subtle variation within each hue. The colors, the boundaries between shapes, the textures, invited you to come close and linger with the drawing."
Zlotowitz writes that the show "[takes] the artist’s creative evolution and exposition as its starting point. Initially starting his career painting in the Impressionist style, this exhibition of Mondrian’s work dedicates itself to showcasing the artist’s career and subsequent development of his unique stylistic innovations. With over 50 drawings and paintings, the journey through Mondrian’s career is exposed through his many lenses and creative phases."
Vance comments: "I think of this plastic paint space almost like a Möbius strip. I like the idea that the forms in my paintings might unwind, but you can’t trace the steps back. I want it to be a singular boom. It is an object that exists, and you don’t question it, but the longer you look at it, you find yourself trying to. You don’t know what the first move was; it unravels in a weird way, like a labyrinth. You don’t know what is the beginning or what is the end; it is very circular. One move floats and becomes part of another form. That is true to how I make them. I work intuitively; I’m counting on the paint to tell me what to do. I’m following the lead of the painting, and the process of making the painting helps determine what the painting is going to be."
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.