Tim Keane reviews Robert Motherwell: Works on Paper 1951-1991 at Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, on view through January 3, 2015.
Keane writes that the show "testifies to that still-radical modernist belief that an artist should try for a maximum degree of innovation on behalf of a totally personalized expression. And there is enough varied, dynamic work here, much of it on a small scale, that can captivate even those wary of Motherwell’s occasional portentousness... The Kasmin show intermingles many gems ... 'Librairie Hachette' (1967) features wrinkled brown paper mailer with the painter’s address and assorted postage stickers and stamps. The wrinkled wrapping paper has been layered onto the beautifully painted pale blue and yellow paper. The work, like many of the collages, is both autobiographical and oblique. Collages like 'Untitled (Gran Vin or Red)' (1973) use artifacts of the artist’s daily life — especially his epicurean tastes — and then efface the cultural context by resituating the found materials within abstract planes of starkly contrasting primary colors. His arrangements of paper upon paper create an allusive visual poetry, as atavistic and spare ..."
James Kalm video blogs a walkthrough of The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, on view from December 14, 2014–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.
Kalm notes that the exhibition "presents a rare opportunity for lovers of painting to witness what the World's most prestigious institution of visual culture considers significant. The show's theme is premised on the notion that the internet has allowed information and influences to transcend time. This has freed artists from reflecting their own eras, while casting them into a mediated timelessness."
Rachel Howard profiles painter John Zurier whose work is on view at the Berkeley Art Museum through December 21, 2014.
Zurier comments: "Elmer [Bischoff] gave me this idea that you could find the color tone of the painting — all the colors work together to create a very specific tone, and once that’s found, you could do almost anything ... The color mood could develop, and then you could move into that space... We register color as a thing, and then our memories associate with that color, and that causes a double feeling, registering the color first and then experiencing these subjective memories ...I want all these associations to come up. A memory on the verge — for me, that’s a pleasurable sensation."
Gherard comments: "I am realizing more and more how important that physicality is to my actual practices. I think it is really fundamentally crucial. My techniques started off as ways to create a particular kind of layer, and they often had connections to the content; the forms that I was painting were creating these physical spaces for themselves. It was something that would visually accumulate on the canvas and then be scraped back. I realized I’m kind of addicted to that process, that I actually enjoy physically pushing the materials around. I also love the exhilaration of a process that completely disintegrates the image and then enables it to re-emerge."
Miller writes: "This first-generation American seemed less interested in pushing the boundaries of art and taste than in exploiting every new opportunity for expressing and valorizing his restless, rootless self in an ever-changing world. Life drawing, quickly executed, gave him many such opportunities, as he moved back and forth between observational detail and compositional dynamic... The narrative qualities of his figures re-emerged in the work of the 1960s. They’re still rough, but they almost feel cool and classic, expressing, perhaps, the financial security and academic stature that he had achieved. As always, his mastery of the human figure in space is remarkable—even on a page of one-minute poses from 1963."
Steven Alexander blogs about paintings by Richard Pousette-Dart on view at Pace Gallery, New York through January 10, 2015.
Alexander writes: "Not unlike the severity and radically of Rothko's last work, these paintings are an important departure from Pousette-Dart's earlier gestural works, and a tougher, highly simplified elaboration of his more overtly 'cosmic' pointillist paintings from the 1960s. Here the artist achieves a full realization of the metaphoric power of elemental form, creating undulating particular surfaces that coalesce into simple geometric configurations, while maintaining the sensation of perpetual flux. As Pousette-Dart worked his way out of the illustrative mindset of surrealism, he began to construct iconic objects that for him embodied pure transcendental energy."
Maria Calandra visits the studio of painter Jason Stopa.
Calandra writes: "I was first taken by blasts of color, animated brush strokes, and confectionery connotations. After spending more time with them, Stopa's paintings' unique relationship to language reveals itself, recalling Haiku poetry in particular. They have a similar directness of description, even in their abstraction, that almost hovers above their subject matter. With as few as three parts coming together in many of his newer works, he is able to simply but potently construct a perspective for the viewer, similar to the way a poem would for a reader. And his use of certain symbolic characters as a verbal punctuation mark is a perfect way to signal the moment that the juxtaposed elements coalesce."
Behnke writes: "In Ionian, the ready pictorial convention of an interior room that opens to an expansive outdoor view is abstracted to the point that portions of the picture plane begin to function non-objectively. While the upper right corner seems to recede into a blue expanse, this reading is quickly subverted by a form, flattened by pattern, that seems to enter the room space from a distance but upends the traditional perspective by immediately bringing any such reading to a halt as it is cross cut by a thick, black line. This line induces an abrupt, sharp change in the reading of the space by yanking the yellow and red striped form into the interior space and smashing it flat ... All of these elements; interior and exterior, natural and plastic, pattern and uninterrupted expanse, all work together to disrupt a common reading of space or to blend that reading with plastic concerns to jolt the viewer from a state of complacency and sureness."
Martin Mugar's work is only 'not what it seems' because of our expectations. We expect that pastel candy-like surfaces that appear like a large confection are sweet and decorative. We might eschew the sugar rush, the diabetic coma, the sick stomach. Or we might dismiss the pleasantries, the overall decorativeness, the unbridled optimism, the quiet pastorale... Mugar is interested in light, in mortality, in the universe. If you see this, you see his work. It is anything but sweet... Mugar finds a way of dialoguing with these questions by not getting caught up in paint in the traditional sense. He is a painter, and isn't it nice just to paint. But this isn't about paint anymore; it is about something more, so he has come up with a material vehicle for his expression that removes that distraction from the experience, that frees the work from that misdirection... So instead of sensuous oil paint at the end of a brush, he applies his wax and pigment concoction with a tool that... a pastry chef might use."
Robertson comments: "I’m presently dividing circles into multi-coloured sections which nevertheless still form an unbroken circle. The wonderful thing about a circle is that it always remains whole. For a couple of years I’ve been adding these divided rings running around the edge to create a sense of movement within the painting, so your eye starts to move around the circle in an almost kinetic way ... I’m interested in rhythms and measured logic but I’m interested in subjective systems too. I want colour to read as light and disrupt the geometry."
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.