As part of the Backstory series, Richard Benari and Lauren Henkin invited me to share some thoughts on my recent paintings, on view at Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York through March 28, 2015.
An excerpt: "To aim for a more complete expression of reality is not at odds with abstraction. Reality in abstract painting exists where what is seen impacts the body physically, where space visually navigated can be felt. By this definition, Renoir’s painting [Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-81)] is as abstract as any work ever painted. We understand the relationships of the painting through an invisible, natural force.
Renoir’s vision for painting was as complex as the scene before him. In reaching towards an equally convincing expression, I am increasingly turning to the scene before me. My most recent works incorporate moments of perceptual painting to push repeating marks of uninflected color to their expressive limits."
Zachary Keeting and Christopher Joy talk with painter Yevgeniya Baras at her exhibition Of Things Soothsaid and Spoken at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, New York, on view through March 29, 2015.
Baras discusses the works on view, described in the catalog as "small-scale, textured oil paintings reconfigure abstraction as a kind of talismanic skin. Baras incorporates a variety of materials into her paintings: wood, yarn, paper-maché and foil. Her distressed and encrusted surfaces collected gestures, cuts and marks recall the traces of age, devotion and obsession found in ritual objects and textiles of tribal cultures."
Scholz writes: "The word gestural comes to mind when looking at Lawlor’s wide, flowing sweeps of paint, but the cumulative effect is more inevitable than personal, like the gradual impact of erosion or the incremental growth of a tree. The pieces are all oil on canvas, but the paint has been so intensely thinned with clear spirits that the surfaces are chalky, matte, and light-absorbing, producing a tension with the wet, flowing brushwork and causing the remarkably intense colors to at first seem muted."
Sultan writes: "The show included several later assemblages, but what most interested me were the earlier, flatter works, of various materials pasted onto wooden boards. The images are graphically strong, the use of materials wide-ranging and inventive; anything that came to hand was of use. Of course there is a strong tie to the earliest collages (from the French coller, 'to glue') by the Cubists Picasso and Braque. Nevelson's work might be closer to that of Kurt Schwitters, who made wooden collage/assemblage constructions, and built entire environments."
Behnke writes that Pollack "paints encrusted works that are much more sublime than that adjective implies. His surfaces can be gemlike or move towards the monochrome but both evoke the light and élan found in the glistening seasons and environments that inspire them."
Gordon Moore interviews painter Joan Waltemath whose exhibition One does not negate the other is on view at Hionas Gallery, New York, through March 14, 2015.
Waltemath comments: "... verticality can set up a one to one relationship to your body when you are standing in front of it. I’ve done horizontal works, and also squares, but since these works are initially focused on getting a recognition of the body to occur, the vertical format is critical... my work has always been concerned with a physical relationship with the body and how the body negotiates the world and receives a painting – through movement."
An excerpt from Robert Storr's preface for the new book Go Figure! New Perspectives on Guston, edited by Peter Benson Miller, published by the New York Review Books and the American Academy in Rome.
Storr writes: "Guston died of a heart attack at the same age as Rothko, sixty-seven, yet was still at the height of his powers and on the eve of the unprecedented fame that resulted from his traveling retrospective of 1980-1981. Nevertheless, for countless painters who came to their vocation around that time or during the thirty-plus years since that show, Guston was embraced as a near contemporary in a way that none of his celebrated coevals have been. The resulting paradox—of being at once an avant-garde Old Master and a perennial beacon for emerging or reemerging talents—points to the essentially anomalous historical status from which Guston both suffered and benefited most of his career."
Kalm notes: "Yevgeniya Baras combines the rugged, physicality of found objects with an almost shamanistic reverence for their evocative potential. By melding the factual with a sophisticated sense of abstraction and its legacy, the artist teases out emotional responses that are embedded in the humble substance of simple images and day to day things."
Through the lens of several west coast exhibitions, David DiMichele notes the continued relevance of abstract painting and argues that Jackson Pollock's Mural (1943), recently on view at the Getty Museum, should "serve as a benchmark with which to evaluate current work."
DiMichele notes: "Surprisingly, one of 2014’s most impressive historical abstract painting exhibitions was at the Getty Center. After two years of restoration, Jackson Pollock’s Mural from 1943 was unveiled, along with an exhibit documenting the conservator’s efforts. The painting looked stunning; I could easily say that it was the most powerful abstract painting I have seen in years, the most visually inventive and compelling one. It was reportedly inspired by Pollock’s witnessing of a mustang stampede during his teenage years in the west, but many historians see it as a group of abstracted, attenuated stick figures that appear and disappear amongst the meaty brushstrokes that form a pulsating field across the canvas. What is it that makes the work so much stronger than most current abstract painting? For one thing, it retains a reference to the world."
Ray writes that "Zurier’s work has been moving toward a sturdier sense of individuality, complicating his frequent categorization as a monochromatic painter. The works in his current show—the Berkeley-based artist’s fourth at Peter Blum—assert themselves as a cast of characters. The 14 oil and distemper paintings (all 2014 and 2015) move between the concrete and the suggestive, as indicated by their titles: half refer to specific locations, and the other half to seasons or times of day. Zurier has long worked in a range of sizes, and only two paintings here have the same dimensions. They are not vast and ungraspable; even the largest, around 78 × 48 inches, feels approachable in scale. Human-sized and firmly material, these paintings function as equivalents, pieces of weather brought inside as figures, each with an insistent specificity of format and surface character."
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.