David Pagel reviews Joan Brown Herself: Paintings and Constructions, 1970-1980 at George Adams Gallery at CB1-G, Los Angeles, on view through April 23, 2016.
Pagel writes that this "straightforward show is at once enchanting and matter of fact. Nothing fancy animates the powerful pictures of the San Francisco painter (1938-1990), whose work gets more riveting with time. The people in Brown’s enamels on canvas are utterly ordinary — regular women, children and men going about their lives or stopping to pose for a picture, back when posing for pictures meant something special."
Margulies writes: "While major scholarly analysis of the sketchbooks has yet to be undertaken, the initial research and resulting exhibition reveal an aspect of Diebenkorn’s process that’s gone unexplored: he was making simple sketches from life constantly, suggesting that his major compositions may have been drawn more from happenstance slices of life rather than carefully composed scenes. ...While the acquisition of these drawings offers tremendous possibility for Dievenkorn scholars down the line, it also provides art lovers with the rare chance to encounter the human side of a great painter, to see the beginnings of his masterworks in careful studies of the simplest and most intimate subjects."
Meier quotes the Cantor Arts Center's Alison Gass: “The books are filled with stunningly gestural sketches of bits and pieces of daily life, both mundane capturing of everyday things, and powerful vignettes of intimate family moments ... We see brief visual meditations on vistas seen on travels, and we see carefully built studies that would become the large-scale finished Ocean Park paintings we know so well.”
John Seed compiles recollections from the students of Elmer Bischoff, whose paintings are on view at the George Adams Gallery, New York, through August 30, 2015.
One former student, Bruce Klein, comments: "In my studio I've tacked up this Bischoff quote: 'What is most desired in the final outcome is a condition of form which dissolves all tangible facts into intangibles of feeling.' This serves as both a goal and reminder." Seed, himself a former student of Bischoff, writes: "I remember realizing ... that Bischoff wasn't interested in isolated forms: he was interested in how everything worked together to form a whole."
Carr writes: "Bischoff, like Park and Diebenkorn, made artworks about daily life in Northern California. Using strong colors and assertive marks, he made dynamic street scenes and interiors portraying figures interacting... In 'Figure with White Lake,' 1964 ... Water lapping against the sand is beautifully rendered, conveying depth, transparency and reflected light. Bischoff applies accurate color in large, vigorous strokes, calling attention to the materiality of the paint. The standing figure is also depicted with broad strokes, yet conveys a feeling of weight, form and light usually found in more highly detailed painting."
Jeremy Harding reviews and exhibition of works by Richard Diebenkorn at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, on view March 14 - June 2, 2015.
Harding concludes: "The last room celebrates Diebenkorn’s return to abstract painting. We’ve understood by now that his career was not a single, mechanical oscillation from abstract through figurative and back, but a long argument with himself, and others, about different ways to make a good painting. The grandiose Ocean Park canvases seem to cut that conversation short with a monumental flourish. They’re hung to drive home the point: standing at the entranceway you have a sense of cool, early morning coastal light, as you pick out louvred bands of colour and big squares a bit like cotton blinds: pale blues, greens and yellows, adorned with a livery of fine lines, mostly in a lower key. You move in, the bands flatten, and your next impression is of large, translucent openings in the gallery walls, like stained glass windows (all that’s missing are the pews); the paint is weightless."
Robin Greenwood reviews paintings by Richard Diebenkorn at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, on view March 14 - June 2, 2015.
Greenwood writes: "Berkeley No.57, 1955, which is in the first room, and is the best painting in the show. It’s a difficult work, complex, demanding, having something of a wrestling-match with itself over exactly what it wants to do, perhaps not entirely resolved; and for those reasons and others, rather engaging. There are coloured forms in movement, rolling, turning against one another, receding and advancing, competing with and contradicting Diebenkorn’s predisposition towards drawing. Here, in this one work, that tendency is temporarily suppressed in favour of a more open, painterly-structured spatiality... Berkeley No.57. comes at the end of his first phase of abstract work, and surpasses all previous paintings. So what’s going on here? Why, I wondered, when he had just got to a really challenging place with his work, just got to something with a bit more muscle to it than the frankly rather commonplace works that precede it; why, then, does he stop what he’s doing and start on some out-of-the-way figurative thing? ... I do actually have some empathy with Diebenkorn’s dilemma and his switch away from abstraction for a decade. But, and this is a big ‘but’, I was thrown off sympathising thus by two things: firstly, that Diebenkorn changed tack just when things were getting interesting/challenging in terms of how three-dimensional space in his abstract painting might be tackled anew; and secondly, that the figurative paintings on show here seem to offer no furtherance to, or deliverance from, those issues."
Ian McKeever writes about Richard Diebenkorn on the occasion of an exhibition of works by Diebenkorn at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, on view March 14 - June 2, 2015.
McKeever writes: "If the early abstract works by Diebenkorn are composed of flowing interlocking forms, then the ‘Ocean Park’ series is distinctly angular and urban. Although appearing counter intuitive, in going from abstraction, to figuration, then back again to abstraction, the trajectory of Diebenkorn’s work does in fact pursue a clear inquiry into the nature of what, in painting, abstraction might be. By contemporary standards, in comparison to, say, the consciously theatrical mega-pictures of Anselm Kiefer Hon RA or David Hockney RA, Ocean Park #79 is not a big painting. It measures 236.2cm x 205.7cm. Indeed its size could be said to hold a relative modesty, a characteristic common to Diebenkorn’s work. Higher and wider than a doorway, yet still having a sense of the scale of the human body, perhaps the height and width of a man with arms raised high or spread wide, this human scale seems important to the painting. Indeed the paintings in Diebenkorn’s ‘Ocean Park’ series seem actively to want to pull us back to our own physical place in the world, to find an intimate contact with the viewer, whereby it becomes a specific one-to-one, body-to-body relationship. The body that is the painting and the body that is our own."
John Seed blogs about Interiors and Places: David Park, Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff at Hackett | Mill Gallery, San Francisco, on view through March 27, 2015.
Seed writes that the show "brings together a selection of 13 paintings by the three founding members of the Bay Area Figurative Movement: David Park, Richard Diebenkorn and Elmer Bischoff. Park is best represented, with nine paintings on view, along with two works each by Diebenkorn and Bischoff. Co-curated by Michael Hackett and Frances Mill, and made possible by the willingness of private collectors and one institution to lend rare works, Interiors and Places is an exceptionally beautiful show that makes a valuable point: Bay Area Figuration has its roots in scenes of familiar people, scenes and objects, rendered with genuine affection."
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.