Patrick Neal reports on the recent panel discussion “… towards meaning in a plural painting world,” moderated by Katy Siegel at Hunter College. The panel including Raphael Rubinstein, Merlin James, Dana Schutz, Richard Shiff, and moderator Siegel, set out to: "examine the condition of painting in its contemporary context... [to] discuss whether the current plurality in painting dilutes meaning, or if it is just a case of many people doing many interesting things. How do we advance meaning given the plethora of dispersed, diverse, yet all seemingly functional approaches? Is the basic idea of advancement even a useful paradigm anymore? These issues will be explored with the aim of presenting a more critical dialogue about work made with paint."
Neal notes that "A consensus emerged that painting’s intrinsic qualities, as an infinitely plastic medium, are what give it strength. Shiff mentioned how close painting is to thinking, a very immediate process that is hand and body oriented but can also assimilate other technologies. Because its mechanics are so simple, painting allows for tremendous inventive freedom, and may for that reason be spawning so many of the hybrid offerings we have today. He mentioned R.H. Quaytman as an example of a painter maintaining an ongoing historical dialogue while broaching new ground as well. Likewise, James mentioned the artist Soutine, whose work could be perceived as political, but those passions are subsumed into the warp and weft of his paint handling."
Jarrett Earnest interviews painter Dana Schutz about her work on the occasion of the exhibition Dana Schutz: Piano in the Rain at Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York, on view through June 16, 2012.
Schutz comments: "This idea that narrative is 'bad' might be a leftover from Modernism; a notion that narrative is 'kitschy,' too illustrative, or literary, but people might also not want to deal with other people's 'stuff.' Colors and flat planes, no matter how subjective they are, are perhaps easier to take than, say, a painting of someone's mom. However, I think a sense of place, character, and event can happen simultaneously with the kind of singular, big-impact read of an abstract painting. Alex Katz's paintings do this perfectly. To make a painting with people and things is not just 'subjective whatever-ness.' It's who we are and where we come from and can parallel the world, not just in a fictional or allegorical way, but also structurally. And paintings and images can feel so real! They can act as agents in the world."
Kalm writes: "With this exhibition, the artist appears to be thinning down her paint, exercising a more virtuosic and slippery brush stroke, and striving for a fresher and more spontaneous style. Melding a goofy figuration with painterly abstraction, viewers are given a choice to appreciate the narrative or the process with which these pictures are fabricated."
Sarah Kirk Hanley writes about the exhibition Götterdämmerung at the Arnold and Marie Schwartz Gallery Met, New York, on view through May 12, 2012.
Kirk Hanley writes: "Schutz’s own extravagantly creative and somewhat outlandish imagination, as well as her exuberantly gestural style, is well-matched to Wagner's outsized narrative and grandiloquent score. Yet the artist took the assignment as a general guideline, noting, '…I worked only loosely from the themes in Götterdämmerung. Most of the images came from drawings in the studio. After drawing for many hours you start to forget the story and focus on the specifics of how to make an image work. I hadn’t seen the production at the Met Opera before I started making the work so that made it easier to imagine what these characters could look like and be doing' "
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.