Lucy Mitchell-Innes discusses the exhibition of works by Jay DeFeo on view at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York through June 7, 2014.
Mitchell-Innes comments that in the works on view in the show DeFeo employs "the photographic process and process of development to produce painterly techniques… to make it feel like a painting. And that was part of the thinking in the whole exhibition was to be able to show how she could move back and forth between one medium and another and still be completely consistent with the imagery and process… that you could look at a work on paper or a painting or a photograph or a xerox and you could see the consistent vision of what she was trying to accomplish."
Nechvatal writes: "Michaux’s drawings from 1960 depict a sort of behind-the-scenes vibrating world, deep and dense enough that representation finds itself joined together in surreal suppositions. Non-logocentric works like these can perhaps direct us towards that capricious, vibrating zone, that always inaccessible arena, which dives down, beyond our gaze, towards the very velvety heart of things. Indeed it is this quivering semi-cohesion that maintains the sovereign and secret sway over each and every sign — this vibration — which I find interesting in Michaux. Something beyond reductive abstraction or glib representation. Something excessive, hybrid, semi-abstract."
Hilarie M. Sheets writes about the "changing complex profile" of African American abstract painters on occasion of the recent exhibition Black in the Abstract, Part 2: Hard Edges / Soft Curves at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. The show featured works by Derrick Adams, McArthur Binion, Nathaniel Donnett, Sam Gilliam, David Hammons, Felrath Hines, Rashid Johnson, Jennie C. Jones, Simone Leigh, James Little, Rodney McMillian, Nadine Robinson, Leslie Smith III, Cullen Washington, Stanley Whitney, Jack Whitten, and Brenna Youngblood."
Sheets notes that Romare Bearden's "1960 canvas Strange Land, included in the Houston show, would be unrecognizable to most viewers as a work by Bearden. It wasn’t until 1964, when he started making collages inspired by the rituals and rhythms of African American life, that he achieved acclaim... His extensive experimentation with Abstract Expressionism from 1952 to 1964 has gone virtually unnoticed."
Petrovich comments: "I’m certainly into tactile, visceral pleasure, I’m into color, into moving things around, all these things that happen while you paint. But I get irritated with the specialness of painting—it’s bizarre, overemphasized. There’s a Polish poet named Adam Zagajewski who wrote an essay called 'Against Poetry' simply because he was so against all the pro-poetry essays. It’s a 'lady doth protest too much' scenario—if we can’t be bored with painting, if it has to be this magical process all the time, then there’s probably something wrong with how we’re engaging it. The crucial idea that painting gave me was that you could make some kind of crucial statement on your own terms. Other people might have gotten that from graphic design or sculpture, but I happen to have gotten that from being in a studio by myself, painting."
Sharon Butler visits the studio of painter Andrea Belag whose exhibition S, M, L: Recent Paintings will be on view at DCKT Contemporary, New York from June 6 - July 18, 2014.
Butler writes: "Belag's process begins with color. When she was in Japan last year, she found a pocket-sized catalog of color combinations (above, on the table), and the colors for her paintings are chosen directly from the book. Thinned with stand oil and Dorland's Wax, the paint, mixed in plastic food storage containers, is transparent and deeply saturated. To avoid dripping, Belag lays her stretched canvases flat on a table, where she applies the paint with different tools, including a huge, 18-inch wide brush, spatulas, and various painting rags. Working on a table affords Belag greater freedom of action than she would have if the painting were on the wall. She walks around the painting as she works, dragging the brushes as she goes."
Mizota writes: "Designed specifically for the space and light of the museum, the paintings are not so much individual works as a kind of sensory installation. Although the squares are discrete — there is no attempt to blur the lines between them and each color is noticeably different from its neighbors — the works bring to mind the more misty perceptual interventions of James Turrell, in which it sometimes feels like the artist’s canvas is the back of your eyeball itself... they induce a kind of sensory vertigo. The squares appear to ripple and shimmer as if animated, although this effect is almost a fugitive motion, as if glimpsed out of the corner of one’s eye. Or perhaps it’s a sensation experienced on a level more visceral than optical, as a welling up or a tamping down of some inchoate feeling."
Lilly Wei interviews painter David Ostrowski on the occasion of his exhibition Emotional Paintings at Peres Projects, Berlin, on view through June 21, 2014.
In her introduction to the interview, Wei writes that Ostrowski's paintings "look like works that may or may not be quite finished, seemingly nonchalant studies that by happenstance back up into a delicate, even elegant, if imperfect, unfamiliar beauty. It is an attitude based on contingency and mutability and framed by ambivalence, as Ostrowski muses on what might constitute a painting today, what might be discarded or refused... Dragged across the floor, scuffed, otherwise marked, bullied, even, [the paintings] are remarkably intimate in presence, reverberating with cryptic revelations that might seem throwaways, but are not."
Sarah Cowan reviews the exhibition Jay DeFeo at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, on view through June 7, 2014.
Cowan writes that it is important that the show "homes in on [DeFeo's] post-'Rose' output until her death in 1989... DeFeo's reputation is too closely linked to the overly dramatic narrative of The Rose, she writes: "DeFeo comes out of this narrative looking like a misunderstood martyr and naive visionary: she was legendary in the San Francisco art scene; she was an anti-art-establishment bohemian; she wasn’t a good businesswoman; she was a muse; she was a one-hit wonder; she was a perfectionist; she was a slave to 'The Rose'’s demands; she was obsessed... It’s this last word I find particularly problematic. Even in the catalogue for last year’s comprehensive retrospective at the Whitney Museum, an exhibition that took a wrecking ball to the myths surrounding DeFeo’s career, every single one of the essays uses this word to describe her... Did anyone say Giacometti was obsessive about his gaunt figures? Who would call Johns a servant to his flags? When does interest cross into passion, concept become compulsion, inspiration equal pathology? DeFeo is slowly making her way out of the empty frame “The Rose” left behind, but those charged with unpacking her history need be much more careful not to silhouette her in dramatic light."
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.