Alexis Clements reviews works by Etel Adnan at Galerie Lelong, New York, on view through May 8, 2015.
Clements writes: "On Adnan’s uncluttered canvases the color vibrates and pulses with an ecstatic fluorescence that lends many of the abstract works on display an energy and life that I could not look away from... Beyond Adnan’s use of color, one of the things that struck me most about the show at Lelong is the intense economy of her work. Not only are the works of a small scale (few of the paintings exceed 13 x 16 inches), but the paint is generally applied in only one layer... There are no obvious edits and changes in her work, no excess — instead, there seems to be a patient clarity, a practiced hand and mind."
David Cohen moderates an email roundtable discussion on the work of Thomas Nozkowski, on view at Pace Gallery, New York, through April 25, 2015. Participants include: Joseph Masheck, David Brody, Alexander Ross, Marjorie Welish, Jennifer Riley and Raphael Rubinstein.
Rubinstein comments: "Putting aside for the moment the question of why Nozkowski and others have been subject to official neglect, let’s turn to the show at hand. The quantity, and the quality of this quantity and, perhaps most importantly, its diversity, come across as a major statement, which is rather surprising for this artist who, as our compère rightly notes, seems to fit nicely into the category of the 'painter’s painter.' One of the requirements for being a 'painter’s painter' is reticence, developing a style that seems, at least superficially, modest, declining all bombast, and any hint of wanting to make a big art-historical statement. It also helps to paint small. Nozkowski has met these superficial requirements, working at a consistently small scale (which has grown in nearly imperceptible increments over the decades), issuing no explicit challenges in technique or content to the legacy of modernist abstraction, exhibiting no hunger for iconoclasm or transgression. Of course, if one looks at the work more closely, there are all kinds of innovations and transgressions in Nozkowski’s work but they are always subtle and never announce themselves as such."
Benjamin Britton considers Julie Mehretu's Mogamma (A Painting in Four Parts): Part II in the collection of the High Museum of Art.
Britton writes: "From my first introduction to Mehretu’s work, I was struck by its speed and multiplicity of transparent perspectives. The paintings gave the sensation of lives lived in multiple locations, the architecture of power, and the actions of people against the background of civic structures of control. And she was doing it with abstraction, but something beyond the grid of modernism. It was a generative approach, and one from which I internalized much about how painting can function. Looking at her work certainly contributed to my desire to have a painting define its own conditions within its frame and produce its own climate, rather than arranging forms based on composition. It also helped me to see the way in which signifiers could be interpreted formally so that they became abstractions, yet held their signification. The form of the signifier was shifted using scale, orientation, position, direction, and color to become a parallel iteration of the conceptual motivation for using the signifier in the first place (for example, the temporary status of architectures of power she describes using layered line drawings of transparent architectural facades)."
Alexander writes: "Working with aspects of observed landscape as his starting point, Hatton builds abstract compositions comprised of many layers of shapes and spaces -- beautiful contrasts of linear and planar dynamics laid out in juicy scumbled color. The paintings evolve and intensify through constant shifts and revisions, ultimately coalescing to a state of ecstatic presence -- a place of deep painterly integration."
Alteronce Gumby conducts an extensive oral history interview with painter Stanley Whitney.
Whitney comments: "... my big goal.[was that] I wanted to open the work up—not relying on the color, but on structure. I thought that Color Field artists were weak with their structure. And the color in those days was weak too. They used flat color right out of the jar or the tube, like Stella. But I didn’t want to give up color and touch—colors like Veronese’s or Courbet’s, or de Kooning’s sensuousness with oil paint. I was interested in how color and touch go hand in hand. The color changes with the touch—it’s a different color if you change the weight, or the amount of paint, or its viscosity. It’s much more nuanced. I was looking for a way that I could have all these things in one painting."
Yau writes: "[Judith Russi] Kirshner gets to the heart of Fish’s paintings when she advances that the artist’s 'close focus allows her subjects to become unhinged from their referents, to become inexplicable.' I would further advance that in reaching the 'inexplicable,' Fish exposes most realism as a devolution into a style, demonstrating that close looking – which she shares with such artists as Dan Douke, Peter Dreher, Catherine Murphy and Sylvia Plimack-Mangold – can supersede style (or branding) and become both an examination and a translation of attention. It is this quality of scrutiny – of looking with such focused intensity that the commonplace things in the world become mysterious – that I find compelling. Fish is able to revisit the familiar in paint so that it moves closer to its original state of incomprehensibility."
Jeffrey Collins photo blogs a visit to Ralph Humphrey: Conveyance at Garth Greenan Gallery, New York, on view through May 16, 2015.
The gallery press release notes: "The exhibition focuses on the Conveyance paintings, a singularly important, emotionally fraught body of work, created between 1974 and 1977. The paintings—hulking masses of casein and modeling paste in blacks, blues, and purples—often loosely resemble actual objects, like packages or containers. But, what do they contain? Ostensibly, they are vessels for Humphrey’s emotions, his life experiences and ideas about painting. Their textured surfaces simultaneously attract and repel, even as their dimensionality literally forces viewers into the objects’ space."
James Kalm visits an exhibition of works by Mara Held, Margrit Lewczuk and Meg Lipke at David Findlay Jr. Gallery, New York, on view through May 9, 2015.
Kalm notes that these three painters have "achieved unique visions through independent approaches, to not just formal issues like color, line and shape, but who've also experimented with unusual materials and techniques. Despite their differences or similarities, they nonetheless represent a broad cross section of contemporary organic abstraction."
In a new video, artist Katharina Grosse discusses the use of color in her work. Katharina Grosse: The Smoking Kid will be on view at Johann König Gallery, Berlin from May 2 - June 21, 2015.
Grosse comments: "...color is such an very, very important spatial feature in my work in relationship to the crystallized and built and materialized world that is part of what I do when I paint in space. I like this anarchic potential of color. I see it very clearly that color is actually taking away the boundary of the object, so there is no subject/object relationship any more. So I think that's maybe what color has the potential to make us think."
Jennifer Samet interviews painter Jason Stopa on the occasion of his exhibition Double Trouble at Hionas Gallery, New York, on view through April 25, 2015.
Stopa observes: "At the end of the day I am most interested in [the paintings] being read as formal images. I am less interested in images that are solely based on ideas. I do not accept the idea that language prescribes how we are supposed to see a thing. I think it is the opposite. When you go back in history, language comes out of the visual. It comes out of people making marks — symbols that become metaphors, allegories, narratives. I think that we understand and respond to things first on a sensory and somatic level. Then we place conceptual and philosophical ideas on what we have seen."
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.