Alexander observes that show "reveals Hall's deep connection to the history of painting -- the materials, processes, systems, and iconography, as well as the ritualized labor of traditional practice. While it might not be obvious to the viewer that each small panel is painstakingly built of many layers of sanded Venetian plaster, what is obvious is the utter sensuality of the resulting surface, and the delicacy and depth of the oil color ground. On top of, or into that ground, Hall uses graphite hash marks and lines to create intricate rhythmic patterns that are at once translucent, physical, and constantly shifting with the viewer's position."
Sassoon writes: "Like the best painting from cave art onwards, Still’s work is as alive and raw as if made today. His characteristic lightning shapes are a bit like the flashes that follow on the heels of Superman. They direct the eye, they activate the composition; actually they are the composition. They suggest a rip or wound in the skin of the paint, something damaged or hurt, while at the same time opening a window of light and color in the otherwise emptiness or murky impasto of the canvas. Still must have gone through countless gallons of black. Either pessimistically or optimistically, the rips and flashes seem to reveal an intimacy and vulnerability, creating a touching counterpoint to the bravado and strong ego that the work communicates — if you are open to being touched by it."
Ridley Howard interviews painter Benjamin Butler whose exhibition Another Tree, Another Forest was recently on view at Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna.
Butler comments: "I used to be very interested in combining dissimilar art historical reference points, into singular paintings. It was definitely important for me to use a simple/modern subject matter, the landscape, as a context for what was essentially a post-modern strategy. The landscape format made what could have been a heavy-handed idea more bearable to me. Mondrian was a part of this historical discussion that was happening in my paintings. The singular tree framework/motif functioned like a time machine for me. I often thought to myself, "Imagine if Mondrian had never stopped painting trees, and was then influenced by the many abstract painting languages which came later (that Mondrian, himself, had actually influenced)". This non-linear, and slightly absurdist idea, was incredibly helpful in pushing my project forward. The often-discussed idea of abstraction and figuration, and the blurring of the two, I've always thought, is a rather natural and unavoidable effect of putting paint on canvas. However, it does, usually, make a painting more compelling to look at, for a longer amount of time."
Janet Goleas reviews Vernacular at Theodore:Art, Bushwick, Brooklyn, on view through July 19, 2015. The show features works by Eric Brown, Sharon Butler, Joyce Robins, and Andrew Seto.
Goleas writes that the artists "approach abstraction with a shared sense of humility, materiality and ambiguity. Speaking in distinct but related painterly tongues, the works on view connect familiar idioms—minimalism, cubism, precisionism—with a wabi-sabi aesthetic. The conversation among these accomplished artists is smart and refreshing."
Halasz writes: "Nathanson’s shapes are bounded by edges that are sometimes straight, sometimes jagged, and occasionally rounded – all within the same picture. They look like pieces of paper that have been cut or torn, nor is this by chance. Rather, it’s because they’re based upon collages that constituted the preliminary studies, or modelli, for the paintings... At present, she relies upon her preliminary studies only up to a point, but sometimes edits unnecessary details out of them for the final version and/or experiments with freely-flowing, more accidental pourings."
Janet McKenzie reviews a retrospective exhibition of works by painter Agnes Martin, on view at Tate Modern through October 11, 2015.
McKenzie notes that "[Martin's] works are composed of the simplest formal elements – ruled pencil lines and a limited number of forms, including grids, stripes and, occasionally, circles, triangles and squares, painted in a reduced palette on square canvases. The austere painting anticipated and helped to define minimalism... In 1989, Martin recalled: “When I first made a grid, I happened to be thinking of the innocence of trees and then this grid came into my mind and I thought it represented innocence, and I still do, and so I painted it and then I was satisfied. I thought, ‘This is my vision.’”
Corrigan observes: "Though this show engages with space and structure in a less explicit way than previous installations and sculpture-based exhibitions, Grosse’s placement of these large-scale paintings in a luminous and immensely spacious gallery successfully questions the relationship between incidental and fabricated space on more subtle terms. This show constitutes a seemingly more conventional approach by Grosse, taking on similar artistic concerns in a new context and approach. However, in the composition of space, and in the paintings exhibited, the orderly and disciplinary layout of the gallery is interrogated at the most basic and explicit level. Grosse taps into the potential for two-dimensional, pictorial space to scramble, expand, or otherwise intervene in the spatial relationships of the viewing of art."
Blog post revisiting William Rubin's 1963 article “Ellsworth Kelly: The big form,” republished on the occasion of four recent exhibitions of Kelly's work at Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.
In the article Rubin wrote: "Working from flat Purist painting such as had been in vogue with the Abstraction-Creation group and the painters of the Réalités nouvelles in France, Kelly forged, during the early ‘fifties, a style manifestly his own. The process involved, as I see it, certain fundamental transformations of the inherited manner: the introduction of intense color into a starkly reserved and ascetic style, producing a peculiarly American combination of the hedonistic and the puritanical; the invention of a vocabulary of affective shapes, which, though vaguely recalling Arp’s biomorphism, are distinctly personal; the use of the frame to implement ambiguities in figure-ground relationships and facilitate a new and unusual sense of scale. Though the resultant work has affinities with the flat, simple, heraldic compositions favored by some other, and later, young American painters, Kelly’s development has been resolutely inner-directed: neither a reaction to Abstract-Expressionism nor the outcome of a dialogue with his contemporaries."
Thomas Micchelli reviews works by Andrew Forge on view at Betty Cuningham Gallery, New York through August 14, 2015.
Micchelli writes: "'They take a long time to make.' That’s what the British artist and writer Andrew Forge said when he was 'questioned as to the meaning of his paintings,' ... Such a brass-tacks perspective would seem to make Forge’s pointillist abstractions strange bedfellows with the all-white paintings of the American pragmatist Robert Ryman — both artists approach each new work as tabula rasa, an unpremeditated engagement with the empty surface ... but there is an experiential connection as well. The simplicity of Ryman’s monochromes compel you to examine how the painting is made — the length, direction, thickness and texture of the stroke — and Forge’s labor-intensive, tessellated patterns, painted one dot at a time over months and years ... subliminally draw an equal amount of attention to the hard reality of the painting’s evolution."
Anne Sherwood Pundyk reviews Peter Fox: Blind Trust at Front Room Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, on view through June 21, 2015.
Pundyk writes: "The melting ribbons of clear, bright color-groups represent hypothetical nations or advertise various emotional states. Owing to the addition of more water to thin the texture of the paint in the new works, the striped bands alternately shrink to thin vacillating lines or abruptly spread out like broad waving flags. Overall, the dripping striations look like spooky, alien forms of calligraphy and gestures from a private dance. The resulting erratic negative spaces sing the strange, knotted song of Fox’s new freedom."
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.