Nicole Eisenman and David Humphrey discuss their approaches to narrative and figurative painting.
Eisenman: "My thing is that I’m really into narrative. It’s not about the figure—it’s the storytelling that I’m stuck on. The meat and bones in my practice is somewhere between texture and storytelling."
Humphrey: "Something comes alive right when you’re trying to solve a problem in the picture. It might be: What kind of shoes are on this person? What kind of hat is that? Is that a swivel chair, is there a pattern on it? And in the aggregate of all that problem-solving you end up with a narrative that’s both bigger than, and intersecting with, the manifest narrative of people riding on a train or eating a meal or whatever."
Eisenman: "Somehow what’s happening in the picture gets eclipsed by the meaning of the accumulation of those objects and moments smooshed together. You can look at how those objects and things intersect with texture and structure to deepen the story."
Jennifer Samet interviews painter David Humphrey whose exhibition Work and Play at Fredericks & Freiser, New York, on view through November 8, 2014.
Humphrey comments: "When I went to New York University, critical theory was being translated and showing up in cinema studies. Identity politics and feminism became part of the language of contemporary art. Painting was being interrogated for its masculinist commodity status. For better or worse, it introduced a self-consciousness that put pressure on artists to account for themselves. Some artists became more pinched, and for others, it raised the stakes. I felt that it was liberating. Painting could reflect what it was to be a person in contemporary life. You are going to the grocery store, buying things, thinking about your girlfriend, dreaming about other things. All of those layered contents could be addressed or reflected directly in the painting: the idea that the painting has the ability to reflect consciousness in a certain way — maybe in the way poetry can — in this peculiar language of colors arranged in a certain order."
Butler writes that Humphrey's "extraordinary installation ... tells stories about our engagement with the world. It is a tour de force of eclecticism, expansiveness, and integration, unifying ostensibly disparate images through the shared phenomenon of depicted observation... In each painting, a figure--sometimes a person, sometimes an animal--is looking. Humphrey urges us to consider the psychological act of looking from several viewpoints. By adding another level of observation, we complete the picture. Viewers look at his figures looking at each other, at things outside the frame, or, in some cases, back at them. Thus he seems to be taking a stand against the narcissism of the selfie: being in the world is never only about you or me."
Craig Drennen interviews painter David Humphrey about his work. Humprey's exhibition Blind Handshake is on view at Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta through March 29, 2014.
Humphrey comments: "I’ve worked with this crude binary of ‘Where is it?’ and ‘Who’s in it?’ for many years. Sometimes the location acts as a protagonist and the characters might be passive witnesses. I’m continuing to work with the image of the spectator as protagonist. Often it’ll be as simple as somebody in the picture looking at something, like an overturned cement truck or a closed door... One of the ways I tend to work is to develop an image in search for what it could possibly mean. So while I’m working on it I have trouble summarizing what it’s about or putting it into any kind of context because the process is an occasion to have an adventure... It’s a challenge to craft an open-ended painting situation so that possibilities emerge. Reflecting on the condition of the spectator is broad enough to do that. I guess something I’ve come back to over and over is an attempt to stage intersubjectivity-what happens between people."
Phong Bui interviews painter David Humphrey on the occasion of the upcoming exhibition David Humphrey: New Paintings at Fredericks and Freiser, New York, on view from November 8 – December 22, 2012.
Humphrey comments: "For me, the development of a painting proceeds through a kind of productive disorientation. I make each piece in order to learn something." He continues: "I try to make paintings in collaboration with myself. I can split off aspects of myself: one hand does these big abstract gestures while the other models the small details of a representational image. To me, painting is evidence of a series of contacts; the matter of paint is deposited by touching, stroking, and pouring in psychologically charged ways... A painting can be a choreography of speeds and a compression of different times."
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.