Rubenstein observes: "The depiction of power, though its presence is immaterial, has been a source of fascination for painters since, well, there has been painting. Michalangelo, David, Rembrandt, Benglis, Golub, Kruger, and Longo come to mind. Schor plays with the relationship of the figure, immense and monolithic, against the ground, delicate and ephemeral. ... Like Picasso, in his last self-portrait (Self-Portrait Facing Death, 1972), Schor gives us a schematic depiction of time at work. The Mangaaka figures which were the catalyst for this group may have had talismatic properties for their creators, but for the contemporary artist, Schor seems to ask, does art still have that power? Schor’s drawings are meditations on time and aging, and on the power of art to transform and transcend the temporal."
Robin Scher interviews painter Thomas Nozkowski on the occasion of his exhibition of Works on Paper at Pace Gallery, New York, on view through March 26, 2016.
Nozkowski remarks: "We tend to get obsessed with language and the information that can be carried by language. But I think long before men spoke, certainly before they wrote things down, they had a visual language and understanding of the world. A certain color meant a certain kind of weather was coming, a broken branch meant lunch just walked by. Or even—this is one that always gets me—you’re standing on a street and you’re looking three blocks away and there’s this little moving dot and somehow you just know it’s your best friend. There’s no way you could see enough to know that, but somehow by the presence of this dot in the world, you can read it. I think that’s our deep understanding of the visual of the world."
In excerpt from his new book, Mark Rothko: from the Inside Out (Yale University Press), Christopher Rothko reflects on his father's love of music (in particular Mozart) and its influence on his paintings.
Christopher Rothko writes: "Rothko paintings, at their most affective, do engage us in a full-body experience touching all the senses. On the most basic level, we see the paintings, but if you suspend the experience at your visual receptors, you have not really seen a Rothko. Like music, Rothko paintings offer a gateway to our inner selves. They evoke a visceral reaction that in turn sparks feelings and engages our minds, one that indeed offers great riches because all can speak it. In this way, they provide a basic level of human connection that starts between the artist and the viewer, but extends to how we speak with the world around us."
Du Toit writes: "Ultimately, though, the greatest value of art-historical anomalies like af Klint does not stem from their elusiveness, nor from their canon-defying dates ... It is that their work tends to make us abandon the generic lenses we habitually apply to art. To call af Klint abstract, for instance, is a category error, since she was independent of this discourse. Such perspective must be a good thing, even if it leaves us without much to say."
In her introduction Samet notes: "Although Gilliam is best known for his 'Drape' paintings—unstretched canvases stained in vibrant pigments and extended into three-dimensional space—the surfaces of the paintings he has made over a fifty-plus-year career are actually quite diverse. They include the “Black” and “White” paintings: dense thickets of monochrome paint, with collaged, cut and reused canvas additions. Gilliam has also worked extensively with multi-panel paintings in enamel on aluminum with plywood structures."
Peter Malone reviews Physical Painting,curated by Jennifer Samet with Scott Wolniak, at the Richard & Dolly Maas Gallery, SUNY Purchase, on view through March 18, 2016.
Malone writes: "On balance, I was left with the feeling that regardless of what material an artist chooses to work with, abstraction is likely to produce a visually compelling result only if the artist can tease from the chosen medium a visual expression that transcends the viewer's expectations of the medium used. What 'Physical Painting' demonstrates clearly is that it is no easier to get a successful painting from cement, paper, fabric or clay than it is from paint applied to a canvas. Regardless of the materials used, abstraction—the most individual of all painting's genres--demands a commitment to a vision that often seems no clearer to the artist than to a viewer. If painters can lose themselves in the act of scratching into a block of plaster, something may come of it. In the end it is the artist's judgment of the result, not the recipe, that matters most."
Kardon observes that "the mammoth scale of the work in Black and White Paintings takes one off guard. On a page, on a screen, or even from a good distance, the whole painting can be apprehended, despite its internal contradictions. But up close, at the distance from which they were painted, our physical relationship to these colossi distorts all perception. White spaces become enlarged or compressed as we pass from one end of the canvas to the other, and angles change as we get closer or further away. The sense of the whole becomes elusive. Rather than objects, the paintings behave as fields, where relationships dominate instead of physicality."
MacPhee comments: "I have to feel like it’s organic to what I’m doing. I’ve done diptychs and triptychs and sewn canvases together, but never gone off the rectangle. It has to seem as if it’s inherent in the direction of what you’re doing. It can’t be an add-on. I’ve always been very suspicious of myself. You have to understand the difference between embracing something because it makes sense in terms of what you are doing versus grabbing something that doesn’t make sense in terms of your own work and confusing yourself... I like to be surprised. To be surprised is the highest aesthetic category."
John Goodrich reviews works by Ken Kewley recently on view at Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia.
Goodrich writes: "Compared to merely decorative paintings, Kewley’s communicate in an elemental language based in the self-sufficiency of common objects. What does it mean to be a petal, amidst a hundred others, spreading above the plane of a table? In some existential sense, we’ll never quite know; our eyes imperfectly measure a world that finally defies measurement. But Kewley, speaking in a language peculiar to painting, offers compelling possibilities."
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.