Amenoff comments: "Landscape, as an idea, has to do with longing. Paintings are alternate worlds – worlds unto themselves, manifested by each artist to satisfy a desire to fill a void. One summer I taught with Per Kirkeby at Skowhegan and he said that paintings are more real than actual experience. I thought about that, and took it to mean that painting is a distillation. A painting takes some aspect of the world — maybe an emotional state — isolates it, and makes it more potent. A painting is edited and condensed, so the flavors are sharper and brighter and stronger. It can be as magical as an Agnes Martin. Her work does that: isolates, distills, and creates a world. With an unsuccessful painting, or when parts of a painting are annoying, you are not able to believe in that world."
Megan Abrahams writes about the work of Sarah Cain whose installation The Imaginary Architecture of Love was recently on view at the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), Raleigh, North Carolina.
Abrahams writes: "[Cain's] work encompasses the range from gestural, loose and playful marks to controlled repeated lines and shapes that define sections of composition, like measures or bars of music. Tightly defined, carefully rendered circles, large X’s or other repeated motifs may dominate the surfaces—framing areas in a deliberate way... While her painting conveys spontaneity, she approaches it with serious intensity and careful forethought. The work is largely improvised, but Cain prepares a material list and thinks about the space for months before beginning a project. Even so, she notes, a sense of urgency makes the work really come alive. 'I want it to be immediate. I want to be in the present tense and for the viewer to have to emotionally and physically take it on. People can just walk by paintings fast in a museum. There’s sort of this tomb-like feeling to objects. But with a work on site that’s engaged and made right there, you enter viewing them in the same space as (they were made), so it’s a real immediate experience.'"
Piri Halasz reviews Larry Poons: Choral Fantasy at Loretta Howard Gallery, New York, on view through February 13, 2016.
Halasz writes: "Entering [the gallery] is like walking into the middle of Niagara Falls, or being confronted by the descending lava of a volcano—all as frozen for eternity by a modernist photographer like Brassaï..." Halasz adds: "And what paint! The whole show is a colorist’s dream come true. The 1980s paintings, with their nubbled surfaces, are shades of purest gray, white or cream, while those from the 1970s explore a fuller range of color—clear and light in some cases, deep and mellow in others. This critic’s favorite is “Loose Change” (1977), a tall narrow painting with blackish blue, light blue, mint green,pink, and rust-colored paint splashed and splattered as well as poured. Much empty canvas is left between its paint marks, creating the impression of a wind-blown rainstorm, or trees in the mist – most evocative of nature."
Maria Calandra visits the studio of painter Matt Phillips whose show Comfort Inn is on view at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, New York through February 6, 2016.
Calandra writes: "With multiple points of entry, Phillips' work is generously made. The larger canvases, which often depict familiar fantastical structures straight out of a sixties psychedelic animation, beg for being climbed on and around, making a playground for the eye. The paint that is applied to fill these shapes, in both the larger and smaller paintings, pools together at their edges creating rivers of vivid color. The organic quality of these ridges gently persuades you to take time to look, resting your eye on their furry details."
George Lawson interviews painter Alan Ebnother on the occasion of Ebnother's exhibition twelve paintings at George Lawson Gallery, San Francisco, on view through February 20, 2016.
Ebnother comments: "With my love of a paint structure thicker and heavier then history provided me, I was forced to study and learn how to create a thick paint that would not crack and self-destruct over time. The affirmation that I needed was found in Rembrandt’s impasto whites, and Van Gogh's rhythms. Seeking painting that included one step more than a flat, colored plane, I really have spent the last 30 years attempting to merge structure, rhythm, surface, and color into paint that offered not an explanation, but a small world in itself, a world that hangs on a wall and waits for a viewer to spend the time pondering it."
James Campion reviews Natalie Dower: Reflections, at Eagle Gallery, London, on view through January 16, 2016.
Campion writes: "All the works in the show sit on a spectrum of decipherability... I think it might be fruitful to evaluate each of Dower’s works in terms of her ‘management of decipherability’. One can think about how successfully the medley of decisions to do with colour, material, etc. works with the system being used. We could ask questions of any given work such as: does the use of a particular system with a particular material require a full revelation or a partial revelation of its logic? Or indeed, does a system presented in a particular state of decipherability demand a particular material?"
David Rhodes reviews works by Ann Pibal at Lucien Terras, New York, on view through January 17, 2016.
Rhodes writes: "Pibal’s art is not one of cool formalism. There is a precision here that does not exclude either intellect or sensual pleasure. Neither of these attributes is reduced because of the presence of the other; on the contrary, they combine to enhance each other."
Halasz writes that Parlato's "earlier work ... was conspicuously (if attractively) dripped and/or poured." In this show Halasz adds, "Parlato employs acrylic and molding paste to create many small to medium-sized, irregular but rounded, solid and tidier shapes on canvas." Walker's works, Halasz notes, "are constructed mostly with short, straight green lines scrubbed back and forth: they look something like scratches and even more like pine or spruce or balsam needles... It is as though the artist wanted to create an image with a double level of meaning: on the one hand, it is a macrocosmic branch or even a whole tree, but at the same time it is a microcosm of the needles on that tree."
Grill comments: "What I do as a painter is to paint a lot. It's part of what we all do as artists, doing a lot of work over and over again. In a way being an artist is growing your gut muscle and that tells you when you have made art. It’s finding your voice. You have some control over it, but it's also a result of working. It's not about deciding to change, it's about getting really involved with your material–whatever that is-- and finding what you can make out of the material. Also it’s about figuring out what kind of touch you have. There are paintings that will change color, because the color is not my color. I'm not excited or surprised by it. Or it might not feel like I made the painting. I will wipe out a whole painting if that's the case. Because my gut says it's wrong."
Brennan remarks: "I don’t think each painting is an isolated event, so I find myself starting with the last paintings I made in my mind, sometimes painting what I have done before, and to go forward, I must destroy that and let the new painting reveal itself. When I am not painting I am drawing, one feeds the other. Also I have learned to just stop and back off and do something else when things aren’t going well. It can be a real emotional rollercoaster when it’s not working. It is so disheartening, it amazes me just how bad the feeling can be, still after all these years. On the other hand, it is hard to beat the highs of painting, I think there is no greater pleasure than being surprised by your own work."
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.