Sharon Butler reviews the exhibition Christopher Wool at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, on view through January 22, 2014.
Butler writes: "Sometimes labeled an endgame painter, Wool, to the contrary, breathed new life into painting in a time when it seemed weary and under siege. In an epoch when older painters tended to work for forty years exploring the same image, Wool blew willy-nilly through different images, often concurrently, challenging traditional notions about artist identity and branding and paint handling as well as the Modernist notion of progress. Accordingly, the exhibition has a slightly jangled chronology, darting from one date to a later one and then circling back and forth, illuminating Wool’s disinclination to work in a strictly linear manner. With the rise of Minimalism, performance art, feminist art, punk, and related cross-disciplinary influences, many considered painting passé. Rather than embrace a more fashionable medium, Wool incorporated the punk movement’s iconoclastic anarchy and sarcasm into painting. Whatever one thinks of his taste and particular aesthetic, in making abstract painting meaningful when it seemed irrelevant, he was a true champion of the medium."
James Kalm visits the exhibition Ingrid Calame: Tracks at James Cohan Gallery, New York, on view through February 8, 2014.
As noted in the gallery press release, the show centers around the installation "Indianapolis Motor Speedway Pits #4, #7, #9, #26, #32, #33, #35, #37, #39, #40 ... a vibrantly-colored large-scale pounce wall drawing wrapping around all four walls of the main gallery and incorporating tracings of tire tracks from the Indy Speedway. Calame has worked in the Renaissance technique of pounce transfer since 2010, executed by pushing powdered pigment through a perforated template to apply a dotted under-drawing to the wall behind. This installation is her first to layer pounce patterns, combining the intricate forms of rubber skid marks on diamond-cut asphalt to kaleidoscopic effect. As she explains, 'I try to control how the pigment transfers through the holes in the paper but there is a lot of chance—pouncing causes little explosions through each hole that radiate out. It is an event, like a drawing/dance.'"
Perlwitz writes: "Almeida is playing with the way we take in visual information currently, and I might go so far as to say as she’s poking fun of the fact that contemporary viewers are generally over-stimulated, and that we can only truly grasp so much information at once... Threaded through the show is a questioning of the screen as an idea; flowing, gestural forms duck in and out of painterly washes of transparent color. Walking through the show, one gets the feeling of being a key player in a game of hide and go seek with form itself. That which is seen becomes equally important as what is unseen. Hot colors excite the senses on a visceral level, which is then followed by an unexpected cooling off of sense as we try to mentally comprehend what we are seeing, as we attempt to fit it into our narrow capacity of understanding."
In her most recent post on the 2013 Miami Art Fairs, Joanne Mattera photoblogs a fascinating selection of mid-century geometric abstraction on view at the fairs. The post includes works by Lygia Clark, Geraldo de Barros, Willys de Castro, Hercules Barsotti, Samson Flexner, Ana Sacerdote, Maria Friere, Alice Trumbull Mason, Julie Knifer, Shirley Jaffe, Leon Polk Smith, Gene Davis, Kenneth Noland, Charmion von Weigand, and Thomas Downing.
John Yau reviews the recent exhibition Stephen Westfall: Jesus and Bossa Nova at Lennon, Weinberg, New York.
Yau writes that "Westfall — who is an eloquent champion of hard-edge, geometric abstraction and Precisionism, and less-celebrated artists such as Ward Jackson and Ralston Crawford — first gained attention for his use of skewed and layered grids that form a lattice. However, instead of settling in and refining this possibility into a signature style, he has proved himself to be a probative painter who keeps testing possibilities, pushing against the historical conventions we associate with hard-edge geometric abstraction, as if it could be opened onto new horizons." Yau continues, noting that in Westfall's best paintings he moves toward a "complicated and visually engaging possibility, from a stable image to an image that is simultaneously stable and unstable — a composition that sustains and complicates the “flickers back and forth between whole and fragment.'"
Elizabeth Johnson blogs about the paintings of Sharon Butler, recently on view in the exhibition Skin at The Painting Center, New York.
Johnson writes: "A flat, masked-off-and-painted fragment of an architectural drawing dominates 'Silencer,' suggesting a piecemeal, overhead perspective. Water references, including a mottled, blue background and a floating vessel shape, economically layer the sensations of being both 'inside' and 'in front of.' ... Multiple, discordant perspectives that don’t add up, the humble droop of canvas, and the painting’s reference to censorship (or a muffled gunshot?) make me feel deflated. 'Silencer' seems to miss expressive power by just a hair. Powerlessness, ever linked to failure in America, followed by stubbornness, resignation, and acceptance, are central to Provisional or New Casualist Art."
Dillon writes that "some notion of spirituality has long been part of Federle’s work. If this collection represents the artist’s spirituality, it is of a hoary Protestant type, leaning as much on the inviting, meditative theology of Christ in the Ferner paintings as on the Old Testament’s threats of vengeful wrath in “Sektion.” Federle’s work is full of such dualities. The Ferner paintings move when seen in succession, their circles dilating or constricting, active. But their surfaces and images are so completely entwined—image and object indistinguishable—as to appear singularly still, monolithic, eternal."
John Goodrich and Stephen Ellis remember painter Charles Cajori, who passed away December 1, 2013.
Goodrich writes that Cajori "personified a kind of painter that has become increasingly rare, one who was not only highly accomplished and acclaimed as an artist, but extraordinarily generous and accessible as well. His enthusiasm for painting was contagious, and seemingly limitless; he valued his time in the studio, and discussions about art, far more than the machinations of the art scene. Painting was the immediate and consuming passion of his life, one he hoped to share. At this he succeeded, as he leaves behind a remarkable body of work and numerous peers and students inspired by his way of seeing."
Clark writes that "because cubist solidity was so remote from [Klee's] native perceptual habits. It did not take him long to realise that if his art was to flourish he had to work with his very lack of certainty about where anything was in the world and how intimate with objects a painting ought to claim to be... The mottled, blotted, bending, backlit fields of colour he soon perfected, and the feeling of the surface in a picture (and space in the world) as essentially penetrable – always about to open or dissolve – were his true sensibility discovering its means... In and around 1923 Klee found a way to make even the tight cubist grid do the work he wanted – by inserting enough brighter and lighter squares into the chequerboard, each of them beckoning the eye through the foreground into depth, so that the surface came to look as if it were a kind of transparency ‘really’ hung across a glimpsed infinity on the other side. Once he had the basic idea he often returned to it, varying the size of the squares, the regularity of the grid, the translucency of the veil."
In part one of a two-part essay, Lita Barrie writes about the paintings of Dennis Hollingsworth. Hollingsworth's work is on view in Drifter, a group exhibition at Hionas Gallery, New York through January 11, 2014.
Barrie writes: "Dennis Hollingsworth’s paintings raise playful questions about the paradoxical position of abstract painting today - caught in the impasse between opposing camps. While Hollingsworth is highly skeptical about the conventions that inscribe painting, he also recognizes the impossibility of working without them. He uses this paradox as the impetus for his work - turning the painterly process into a critical reflection upon itself, that constantly raises new questions about its own modus operandi... Hollingsworth’s layered surfaces become a self-reflective space in which questions do not admit the closure of an answer - endings become beginnings, outer turns into inner and viewers are left to make of it what they can."
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.