Sharon Butler photo blogs paintings on view at the recent Frieze Art Fair in New York.
Butler's selection of images includes works by Mary Heilmann, Norbert Prangenberg, Sergej Jensen, Richard Aldrich, Michael Krebber, Jo Baer, Monika Baer, Rebecca Morris, Anne Neukamp, Suzanne McClelland, Jutta Koethers, Michael Venezia, Rita Ackermann, Hans Lannér, and Louise Fishman.
Phong Bui interviews painter Joyce Robbins about her work on the occasion of her exhibition Paint and Clay at THEODORE:Art, Bushwick, Brooklyn, on view through June 22, 2014.
Discussing her painting process Robbins comments: "I begin with some random marks, which in the first layer can be pretty banal, and then I would slowly add and build up other marks that create unpredictable variations of new shapes. The outlining would come next, further developing the color and helping to make a tight structure. I find, in most cases, that following a method rigorously can lead me to a dead end. I prefer a process that embraces chance and aberration and is, in a sense, illogical without any real progression. Sometimes there is a definite articulation of the shape. Other times the line, like a lasso, will meander and catch another shape. And this can go on for a while, which is very alluring. And this is what keeps my sense of discovery or of learning from the painting each time I am working on it. The painting is often finished when it no longer has anything else to offer me."
Lauren Henkin and Richard Benari interview artist Dorothea Rockburne about her work and career.
Rockburne on space: "It seems to me that the big changes in art, if you want to think about it, are spatial changes, they’re not changes in subject matter. Subject matter, still life, geometric abstraction, the human figure, more or less, remains the same... I think there was a tradition that was going on—and goes way back—that had to do with oblique geometry. Today, we’re unfamiliar with it. It’s in the Pompeii Room at the Met. Then, all of a sudden, the stuff just disappears. I think that if it was in Pompeii, it was an inherited tradition. And since there were no books, traditions were handed down pragmatically, from word of mouth —and doing. But it was all lost. There were remains of it, probably because artists are nosy and they’re nosy about the past. And probably Giotto, who certainly had a superb intelligence—that’s for sure—used that tradition, that kind of geometry, but not always."
Bansie Vasvani reviews an exhibition of works by Etel Adnan at Callicoon Fine Arts, New York, on view through May 23, 2014.
Vasvani writes: "For Adnan, place is paramount to her work. The unspeakable beauty of the Bay Area, and specifically the city of Sausalito where she lives, is captured in her block-like compositions. Two vibrant, untitled oil paintings from 2012 express the urban topography and light of the landscape through her exuberant application of pigments. Adnan stresses shapes and planar masses that often appear as painterly gestures and non-rectilinear structures. Through her eloquently minimalist configurations and inventive technique, Adnan fortifies her place as a master of abstraction."
Eric Hancock reviews the exhibition Staring at the Sun, curated by Craig Drennen, at Saltworks, Atlanta, on view through June 14, 2014. The show features works by Eleanor Aldrich, Jane Fox Hipple, Bonnie Maygarden, and Lauren Silva.
Hancock writes: "The exhibition’s comparison of painterly abstraction’s tenuous historical progress and the sun’s eventual destruction of the human species is a very loose analogy, but a telling one, nonetheless. The show’s brilliant associative viewpoint asserts a positive status for painting and, interpreted liberally, ultimately conjures questions about art’s identity crisis as a cultural phenomenon; what are its true epistemological limitations, and how can it function as a good for the individual or, to borrow the press release’s long view, for society? Stylistic resemblances amongst the works tap into these questions and more directly address the relationship contemporary image makers have with digital technology."
Greenwood concludes: "Davie’s best paintings don’t simplify, they gain complexity as they go; they mutate significantly; they don’t start with their 'figuration,' or the 'image,' if that’s what it is; no, it’s where they end up, having started from nothing, with random splurges and splashes, dabs and spatters to get things going. True, they do go into a final phase of consolidation, wherein forms are picked out with lines, sometimes solidified and surrounded by backgrounds, but to varying degrees the original complexities remain to inform the final vision, and to make it supple and resonant. And it’s important to remember that when the first scramblings of paint were put onto works like Philosopher’s Stone or Look In 2, no conception of the finished form of the work was in place. These paintings remain to the last deeply spontaneous works; the action, the reaction, the resolution, all grasped in a moment, yet the result of many, many moments. Maybe this complexity is why I relate to the best early paintings, despite their figuration, as if they matched in some quite precise way my own anticipation of a fully abstract art."
Morgan writes that Soulage's "earlier paintings contain overlapping black and umber brushwork at vertical, horizontal, and diagonal angles, holding forth shimmers of light – discreet underpinnings of ochre and yellow – peering between constructed sections." In Soulage's more recent works, Morgan adds: "The assertion of light... is remarkable in its immediacy, given that the work not only exalts a heightened sensory elegance, but a clearly anchored youthful appearance. They are not at all the works of a retiring artist, but appear to have been made through the strength of accurate perception, thereby suggesting equivalence between the color black the truth of absence. They are paintings that offer substance to the way we perceive light. The pigment literally emit light by refracting off the surface, a point of view closer to Eastern Taoism than to the traditions of Western painting that began in medieval times."
Cassin writes that the show "generously covers more than a decade of the early years of Gedney’s oeuvre, a period during which her work fluctuated between the two initially conflicting directions endlessly debated at Phillip Pavia’s Club, described by him as “the abstractionists’ presence and the purists’ lack of presence.” This translates in to two groups of works: the geometric and meditative paintings versus the emotional, gestural works... As much as her pictorial repertoire is still in the lineage of the masters she was close to at the time—Kline, De Kooning, Pollock—Gedney generates a language and palette of her own. Her bold and idiosyncratic use of unusual greens and strong primary colors against the cream backgrounds becomes her signature world of images, a laboratory of individual alchemy. Although the stated subject in her paintings and drawings during this period is pictorial space, the works belong to the realm of pure emotion, linking her further to Franz Kline’s credo: 'I paint not the things I see but the feelings they arouse in me.'"
David Carrier considers two exhibitions: Shirley Kaneda: Space Without Space at Galerie Richard (through May 28) and Robert Mangold at Pace Gallery (closed).
Carrier writes: "A great deal of contemporary art mimics advertising images, which seek to deliver a potent visual punch all-at-once. The abstract paintings of Shirley Kaneda and Robert Mangold – a very different style of visual art– solicit close slow looking... There are abstract painters who work in series and those who do not. Mangold proceeds as if he was trying to paint many variations on one painting. (This procedure was more evident in his previous exhibitions of recent work than this one.) By contrast, Kaneda offers a more open vision of the processes of art making, for her activity isn’t bounded by any pre-determined structure. Mangold’s structures, like the ripples created by a stone cast in water, encourage you to look by moving your eyes from the outside of his pictures into the empty center. Kaneda, who has a very different visual susceptibility, keeps your eye on the entire surface of her all-over compositions."
Kalm notes: "Obsessively building up oil paint, Dickson creates these works with an unflagging intensity and a faith in paint itself. Sometimes weighing in at over one hundred pounds these works become fetishized objects that transcend the normal limitations of graphic images."
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.