The second part of Jan Tumlir and Stephen Berens' conversation with painter Laura Owens (part one is here).
Owens remarks: "I really want paintings to be problems and I want to activate the viewer to feel that this absorption is disrupted in some way. Even within the individual works, the reason I’m using these different techniques and have these drop shadows that are pushing out is so that you can’t fall into it like a window. The painting is coming out at you and asking you to put these things together. Why is this painted on a newspaper-like ground? Why is everything so disparate? It gives you more chances to level these hierarchies and talk about heterogeneity, because here’s a reference to Matisse and then a children’s mural, and you get to slam those two things together in the same exhibition, two different ways of making. So there are more spaces to move through, all these different levels in space. When I think of absorption, I think of going into this world, this other world that relates to me more in a photographic way, where you’re teleported somewhere. Whereas what interests me in painting is that it comes out into the room, almost punches you in the face. And you can, if you want, go back in deep space because it has so much elasticity. But I really dislike paintings where I’m just meant to dive in. There’s a passivity to absorption that I’m not interested in."
Anne Russinof photoblogs a visit to the studio of painter Rachael Wren.
In a recent essay Cecily Parks wrote: "The evolution of Wren's work chronicles her own particular pilgrimage. Over the past ten years, she has moved futher and futher from representation in order to push the limits of what we recognize as 'natural' form. The grid and repeated regular brushstrokes have organized and even contained landscapes predominantly composed of what resists control: light, reflection, and vapor. In her newest work, such as Dynamic Equilibrium, Inlet, Midwinter, and Overgrowth, we glimpse the entropic."
Halasz writes that, in viewing the show "it becomes clear that the collages served an important purpose for the artist They enabled him to progress from his youthful admiration for cubist painting on to the freer and bolder original paintings that he was to create as one of the founding fathers of abstract expressionism. ... if one looks at oils like 'The Homely Protestant' (1948) or even the ur-version of 'Elegy to the Spanish Republic' (also 1948), one sees that he has learned to combine straight lines with curves and rounded forms, not really surrealist but liberated from the strictures of cubism. This was what the use of collage taught him, to loosen up and fly."
Williams writes: "The works on show at Gimpel Fils focus on this little known aspect of his work. The exhibition includes the final large-scale gouache sketches for the Liverpool and Birmingham murals, as well as other studies and work derived from Lanyon’s exploration of the medium. These large works have a relatively understated sense of colour overtly informed by landscape signage (punctuated by the odd primary) and all sharing black as a common unifier... [After 1956] Lanyon gradually employed a more gestural open-ended brushstroke based painting, sweating out his early constructivist works. However a move into fully abstract works was - maybe suspiciously – avoided. Instead he sought invention in his responses to the spaces he knew so well."
As part of the Backstory series on Tilted Arc, painter Elizabeth Gourlay reflects on a recent series of paintings.
Gourlay comments: "After an afternoon and evening roaming the streets of an ancient hill town in Italy, observing the light from the walls and buildings and sky light seen through overhanging eaves, I awoke the following morning with about 15 vivid abstract images of bold geometric lines and shapes fixed in memory. They seemed to be a perfect synthesis of the architecture and my recent thoughts about abstract art, in particular, Tantric meditative painting. I worked continuously over the next month to capture the qualities and specific colors, lines and geometries of these vision-paintings... Although I often have an image in my mind, I try to keep my conscious mind, the editor, in another room. This allows freedom to explore and expand intuitively on the initial vision, to incorporate unexpected and playful juxtapositions, to enter the 'dialogue' with the piece while remaining honest to the original image."
Sharon Butler blogs about the conceptual painter Michael Krebber whose work was recently on view at Maureen Paley, London.
Butler's post includes excerpts from an interview with Krebber about his painting practice. Asked about exploring painting as a filter or program, Krebber comments that "painting, as well as any other activity, runs as an application that regularly and constantly changes, from for one person communicating with himself, to 2 people or more. Like society, here the programs runs wild, everyone might be in a different program, either actively or passively..."
Greenbaum notes: "Pestoni layers different actions on top of each other to create a harmony, or a two-dimensional three-dimensional space. How far back do these go? How many layers are there? That number seems infinite, but you can’t go on forever—at some point you stop, and then you get a fleeting glimpse of something. There is no figuration here, and no grid either, just the arm moving up and down, creating a forest. The work keeps bugging me because it is so hard to sum up. It doesn’t scream out at me, drawing attention to itself."
Robert Berlind reviews the exhibition Stephen Westfall: Jesus and Bossa Nova at Lennon, Weinberg, New York, on view through December 28, 2013.
Berlind writes that Westfall's "various designs may call up Islamic or Italian tile work, Native American weaving, Tantric art, graphic signage, or architectural façades. His precision of execution is in the service of a wide range of cultural references and metaphors... the many variations suggest that Westfall is responding to a wide range of imagery, information, art historical awareness, and, of course, personal impulses. Such associations are not a matter of appropriation but rather, of working within a greatly expanded contemporary visual and semiotic frame of reference. If one of his goals is immediacy of impact, another is a subsequent richness of contemplative experience that motivated spiritualists such as Mondrian and Malevich, and the creators of Eastern mandalas. The work moves between a meditative orientation and everyday, vernacular readings. Westfall’s paintings, while rigorous in visual concept and exacting execution, are idiosyncratically allusive and expressive. His invention and execution of new work within a field of apparent contradictions is a masterful balancing act."
Christopher Howard reviews an exhibition of works by Annie Lapin at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina, on view through January 5, 2014.
Howard writes that Lapin's paintings are defined by dualities, they "are mostly abstract but allude to representation. They have an unfinished look but are carefully made, and are steeped in art history but very much of the moment. Lapin wants to have it both ways, and often does exactly that... In the newer work, Lapin has all but smudged out the figurative and representational elements. The level of abstraction... makes it difficult to identify any subject—but it hardly matters anyway. For Lapin, ambiguity is strength."
Bacon writes: "For the past few years, Provosty’s most successful paintings have been developing several formal devices, and in her latest works she has pared these down to arrive at a more complete realization of two of the most significant of these devices. The first is a juxtaposition of matte and glossy passages that variously reject, capture, and reflect light as well as the painting’s surroundings. The second is an attention to the edge of the painted field, where Provosty places subtle passages that pinch and curve pictorial space such that there is a general sense, on the part of the viewer, that the space is turning either clockwise or counterclockwise, at different rates and with varying intensity depending on the way Provosty handles these compositional elements."
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.