Yau writes: "One of the strengths of this exhibition, and of Frecon’s work since the beginning of this century, is the tension between harmony and division she is able to infuse into her paintings. The five largest paintings are all the same size, made up of two horizontal panels stacked one on top of the other. The two panels underscore the tension between harmony and division, particularly since each panel can be seen as self-contained even as it is part of the overall composition. At the same time, Frecon’s use of irregular semicircles and arch-like shapes evoke mastabas, Native American burial mounds, Islamic architecture, and even turbans. In their evocation of natural and made-made forms, as well as their resistance to any one-to-one literalist reading, Frecon is determinedly anti-descriptive. At the same time, and this is what distinguishes her from the formalism espoused by Frank Stella’s famous summation, 'What you see is what you see,' she is anti-literalist."
Christopher Joy and Zachary Keeting visit the studio of painter Fran O'Neill.
Thomas Micchelli, writing about O'neill's work for her recent show at Life on Mars, observes that “O’Neill’s art is something you take in with your whole body… [her] blunt, tough-minded, ecstatically convulsive oil paintings are endlessly revealing: pigment and binder, solvent and surface fuse and split, continuously reconfigured under the constant pressure of the artist’s agitated eye and restless hand. The colors cling to the picture plane even as the translucent fields they inhabit unfurl to reveal the depths of space churning below.”
Sultan writes: "Squares of color, placed carefully on adjoining vertical panels, move in space––forward/back, up/down, across––mark weights, move the eye. The sense of empty and full gives rise to the reference to a musical notation, one with sounds and many silences, but with passionate order. we can see four very large, ambitious paintings, each with a different quality of color, light, and rhythm. I love Earendel's offbeat balance, with colored squares of intense and subdued hues. From the irregular placement and varied hues of the squares I got a sense of buoyancy. The squares are very carefully painted with even brushstrokes moving the paint vertically. The ground color is laid on with no visible touch at all, so becomes a boundless space."
Meghan Gordon reviews works by Julian Kreimer at the Lux Art Institute, on view through March 21, 2015
Gordon writes: "The gallery is dominated by mostly small paintings made on the grounds of the residency. Kreimer’s close-cropped images of prickly pear cactus piles steal the show, even among a salon-style wall arrangement of 20 or so gems. The green scraped cactus paddles are striking, with canvas tooth pricking through paint, and the gooey shadows surrounding them are just as good; my arms feel scratched up just looking at them... Perhaps it’s obvious to proclaim that each painting is a document of time and space within his experience, but these studious and delectable works seem to ask more from painting than they know how to communicate individually. Perhaps that is why they work so well compiled on one wall, like cactus paddles. Some artists find excuses to make paintings; Kreimer channels his questions through the medium."
Blake writes: "While the infrastructure of renaissance portraiture may exist in Saccoccio’s paintings, the centralized figure remains only as the most distant resounding of an echo. As the portraits recede into the deep spaces Saccoccio creates through perspectival maneuvers and layers of controlled spills, new possibilities emerge... In Square in the Hole, the artist leaves little trace to the portrait. While a figure might be unearthed from the light wash of brown ground hovering in the depths of the painting, my eyes are drawn into the green jet streams blasting into the corner at top right, and the more subtle version of itself that brings the eye in the opposite direction on the other side of the painting. Those finishing moves–executed with some sort of straight edge or squeegee, are the major forces in this piece. These lines do more of the heavy lifting than any other part of the painting."
Robin Greenwood reviews paintings by Richard Diebenkorn at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, on view March 14 - June 2, 2015.
Greenwood writes: "Berkeley No.57, 1955, which is in the first room, and is the best painting in the show. It’s a difficult work, complex, demanding, having something of a wrestling-match with itself over exactly what it wants to do, perhaps not entirely resolved; and for those reasons and others, rather engaging. There are coloured forms in movement, rolling, turning against one another, receding and advancing, competing with and contradicting Diebenkorn’s predisposition towards drawing. Here, in this one work, that tendency is temporarily suppressed in favour of a more open, painterly-structured spatiality... Berkeley No.57. comes at the end of his first phase of abstract work, and surpasses all previous paintings. So what’s going on here? Why, I wondered, when he had just got to a really challenging place with his work, just got to something with a bit more muscle to it than the frankly rather commonplace works that precede it; why, then, does he stop what he’s doing and start on some out-of-the-way figurative thing? ... I do actually have some empathy with Diebenkorn’s dilemma and his switch away from abstraction for a decade. But, and this is a big ‘but’, I was thrown off sympathising thus by two things: firstly, that Diebenkorn changed tack just when things were getting interesting/challenging in terms of how three-dimensional space in his abstract painting might be tackled anew; and secondly, that the figurative paintings on show here seem to offer no furtherance to, or deliverance from, those issues."
As part of the Backstory series, Richard Benari and Lauren Henkin invited me to share some thoughts on my recent paintings, on view at Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York through March 28, 2015.
An excerpt: "To aim for a more complete expression of reality is not at odds with abstraction. Reality in abstract painting exists where what is seen impacts the body physically, where space visually navigated can be felt. By this definition, Renoir’s painting [Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-81)] is as abstract as any work ever painted. We understand the relationships of the painting through an invisible, natural force.
Renoir’s vision for painting was as complex as the scene before him. In reaching towards an equally convincing expression, I am increasingly turning to the scene before me. My most recent works incorporate moments of perceptual painting to push repeating marks of uninflected color to their expressive limits."
Zachary Keeting and Christopher Joy talk with painter Yevgeniya Baras at her exhibition Of Things Soothsaid and Spoken at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, New York, on view through March 29, 2015.
Baras discusses the works on view, described in the catalog as "small-scale, textured oil paintings reconfigure abstraction as a kind of talismanic skin. Baras incorporates a variety of materials into her paintings: wood, yarn, paper-maché and foil. Her distressed and encrusted surfaces collected gestures, cuts and marks recall the traces of age, devotion and obsession found in ritual objects and textiles of tribal cultures."
Scholz writes: "The word gestural comes to mind when looking at Lawlor’s wide, flowing sweeps of paint, but the cumulative effect is more inevitable than personal, like the gradual impact of erosion or the incremental growth of a tree. The pieces are all oil on canvas, but the paint has been so intensely thinned with clear spirits that the surfaces are chalky, matte, and light-absorbing, producing a tension with the wet, flowing brushwork and causing the remarkably intense colors to at first seem muted."
Sultan writes: "The show included several later assemblages, but what most interested me were the earlier, flatter works, of various materials pasted onto wooden boards. The images are graphically strong, the use of materials wide-ranging and inventive; anything that came to hand was of use. Of course there is a strong tie to the earliest collages (from the French coller, 'to glue') by the Cubists Picasso and Braque. Nevelson's work might be closer to that of Kurt Schwitters, who made wooden collage/assemblage constructions, and built entire environments."
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.