James Kalm visits two concurrent New York exhibitions of works by Joan Mitchell: Trees at Cheim & Read (through August 29) and Black Drawings and Related Works at Lennon, Weinberg, Inc (through June 28).
In the catalogue essay by John Yau for the Trees show at Cheim & Read, Yau quotes Paul Schimmel: "Never randomly placing lines, Mitchell precisely constructs a picture. Her works are 'about making a picture' (cubism) and not 'letting it happen' (automatism). Her works epitomize a shift in abstract expressionism from chance, hazard and the uncontrolled freedom of the unconscious to a new direction with breath, freshness and light within a highly structured armature..."
Sharon Butler blogs a round-up of abstract shows in Connecticut including: This One’s Optimistic: Pincushion, a group show featuring 40 artists curated by Cary Smith, at the New Britain Museum of American Art (through September 14); The Wave by artists Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman at the Wadsworth Atheneum (on view July 12); Olu Oguibe: iPad Prints at Real Art Ways, Hartford (through July 6); and Jack Whitten: Evolver at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (through July 6).
Butler notes that This One’s Optimistic: Pincushion features "hard edge geometric, non-objective, painterly gestural, metaphorical, and more. According to the press release, [curator Cary Smith] conceived the show like an old-school mixed tape." The exhibition includes works by: John Phillip Abbott, Joshua Abelow, Lisa Beck, Trudy Benson, Timothy Bergstrom, Michael Berryhill, Ross Bleckner, Todd Chilton, Steve DiBenedetto, Amy Feldman, Michelle Grabner, Joanne Greenbaum, Clare Grill, Adam Henry, Daniel Hesidence, Xylor Jane, Bill Komoski, Joshua Marsh, Chris Martin, Andrew Masullo, Keith Mayerson, Douglas Melini, Tom Nozkowski, Carl Ostendarp, Ann Pibal, Josh Podoll, Lisa Sanditz, James Siena, Jennifer Wynne Reeves, Alexander Ross, Julie Ryan, Jackie Saccoccio, Russell Tyler, Dan Walsh, Chuck Webster, Garth Weiser, Stanley Whitney, Michael Williams, B. Wurtz, and Tamara Zahaykevich.
Andy Parkinson blogs about the exhibition About Painting at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, curated by Lisa Denyer, on view through June 29, 2014. The show features works by Claudia Böse, Louisa Chambers, Lisa Denyer, Terry Greene, Matthew Macaulay, David Manley, Andy Parkinson, and Anne Parkinson.
The gallery press release notes the "work ranges from the highly structured and pre-planned to more spontaneous painterly language... The process of painting is reliant upon the discovery of new possibilities. It involves being responsive, exploring the properties of the medium to its full potential and allowing investigation into the multi-faceted characteristics of paint. About Painting invites the viewer to consider the decision making process involved in a painting, as a series of significant events that align one way or another to form the compositional whole."
Einspruch writes: "There remains a circle of modernists working in New York who trace their roots back to postwar abstraction on Tenth Street and consider themselves to be working with its fundamental concerns. Modernism, it turns out, may be inherently revivalist, and thus a form of permaculture. The problem from the beginning was to look back in order to find a way forward. As Walter Darby Bannard noted, “Any art that is truly radical must also be in some way conservative.” The newly arrived Berry Campbell Gallery has taken an interest in such work, and is currently showing James Walsh and Susan Vecsey. It’s too soon to call Walsh a senior member of the circle with lions like Bannard and Larry Poons still making beautiful paintings, but he’s been involved and productive within it since the 1980s. Vecsey is younger, but no less invested in Color Field abstraction, though she comes to it by way of the Tonalist landscape."
John Bunker interviews painter Sabine Tress about her work. Sabine Tress: Run Run Painter Run is on view at Appels Gallery, Amsterdam through July 4, 2014.
Tress comments: "I think I am more and more looking for a personalised version of painting. And above all I want my work to reflect a very individual view and complex emotions. I don’t know if my work does that but I am attracted by works that do that, plainly speaking... I’d like to work a lot more on bigger formats. Physically, it’s a challenge. The huge format I worked on recently… I had to get on a chair in order to reach nearer to the top. Small formats can be challenging too as I need to control my actions much more. The bigger formats on the other hand, allow me to ‘slam the paint’ on, I have more freedom to experiment, leave the canvas ‘empty’ on certain areas. Bigger formats allow me to have more of a dialogue with the painting. It’s like a person or a presence standing there. It also feels more like creating a very personal reality, something that stands its ground. I imagine sometimes that if I could paint lots of big formats and that I would then be able to live in this painted environment."
Alexander notes: "Both artists build paintings of exquisite beauty out of the rawest materiality of the medium and the language. Both retained throughout their lives an essential connection to the impulses and structures of observed reality."
Joanne Mattera photo blogs a visit to the exhibition To Leo, A Tribute from American Abstract Artists at Sideshow Gallery, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on view through July 13, 2014.
The large group show features works by nearly 80 artists. Mattera posts a walkthrough from the opening where "American Abstract Artists, the long-established group of painters and sculptors... gathered at Sideshow Gallery in Williamsburg to celebrate Leo Rabkin, the nonagenarian past president of the organization."
Schwartz writes: "Polke was a one-man think tank for new and invariably idiosyncratic ways to make paintings. Surely his coming of age in the 1960s—when, in art schools, it was held that painting as an art form was finished—contributed to the way we always seem to hear him say, as we stand before one new kind of picture after another, 'You think painting is dead? Try this!' A picture by Polke thus exists as a unique and distinctly physical, hand-fashioned entity—and, at the same time, it has the weight of an idea, a suggestion, or a prototype for someone to pick up on. It is a recipe that can leave you charged up, especially if you feel you are on his wavelength; but at the next moment you can wonder if there is any ground beneath you."
Etty Yaniv blogs about the recent exhibition Mixtape! at No. 4 Studio (co-curated by Sophia Alexandrov and Todd Bienvenu) that took place during Bushwick Open Studios. The show featured works by Joe Anthony-Brown, Todd Bienvenu, Katherine Bradford, Lauren Collings, Joy Curtis, Dan Flanagan, Emily Noelle Lambert, Margrit Lewczuk, Gili Levy, Meg Lipke, Lauren Luloff, Sangram Majumdar, Jason Mones, Alexander Nolan, Mark Petersen, Matt Phillips, Kyle Staver, and Dwain Thomas Walters II.
Jackie Wullschlager reviews an exhibition of paintings by Howard Hodgkin at Gagosian Gallery, Paris, on view through August 9, 2014.
Wullschlager writes: "Working within what he calls 'the classical wall of feeling that Degas has built for us', Hodgkin describes his paintings, which look mostly abstract, as 'representational pictures of emotional situations'. His current late style tempers rapture with restraint: this year’s 'From the Head of the Bed', for example, reprises the pinks and turquoises of 'Interior', simplifies its figural suggestions into horizontal slashes, and, in daringly extending its play-off between density of colour and patches of bare wood, suggests more eloquently then ever the fragmentary, elusory character of memory and desire... In their evasiveness, such works bring to mind Vuillard, and in their uneasy introspection Bonnard: a brilliant yellow/black snake-like form, streaking, rising, falling across grey, in another new painting, 'Disturbed Night' (2013-14), is as cogent a distillation of broken sleep and fractious, fractured, sexy dreams as any in modern art."
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.