Friedman remarks: "Many contemporary women artists have reclaimed the depiction of the female nude as Yuskavage does. And many of today’s painters combine high and low sources: in her case, soft porn filtered through Baroque and Color Field painting. But few other artists allow the image that results to be as insistently human. Yuskavage has said that 'for the purposes of working, harnessing the shame is about being vulnerable to the creative process'– the painful content leading to a more unmediated presentation. Then too there aren’t many other artists who handle paint with the same dexterity. Yuskavage’s reverence for her medium has been much remarked upon, and it should be. Her Bonnard-like palette with its lemon yellows, lavenders, magentas, and lime greens; with her sumptuous modernist painterliness; her old-master rendering techniques; her candied chiaroscuro and over-the-top highlights: In Yuskavage’s paintings these make for a perfect marriage between form and content."
Rachel Cooke profiles painter Marlene Dumas on the occasion of her retrospective The Image As Burden which will be on view at Tate Modern from February 5 - May 10, 2015.
Cooke writes: "Early on, [Dumas] worked in collage as well as paint: The Image As Burden includes several examples... By the mid-80s, however, she’d given herself over to paint, and in particular to portraits. These portraits, painted from photographs, often news clippings, rather than life, fall into two groups: the living and the dead, the anonymous and the famous. But her palette is consistently ghoulish, her subjects’ bodies bruised and bent, their skin a liverish green or a gallows blue. Here are swollen pot-bellies and ribs that look like xylophones, wattled chins and twisted – even broken – necks. Some hold extremely graphic sexual poses. Others are blindfolded, or bound in duct tape. And every so often, there comes, transfixingly, a notorious face: Osama bin Laden, Naomi Campbell, Phil Spector with wig, and without. Dumas’s portraits tend to be contextless, her subjects’ faces and limbs floating disembodied, arranged for maximum drama on a washed-out backdrop."
Larry Groff and Matthew Mattingly interview painter Margaret McCann about her work. McCann also discusses The Figure, a new book she edited, published by Skira/Rizzoli.
McCann notes that "Ideally, [painting is] 'two steps forward, one step back' a forward progression. Textures build up richly this way... My compositional spaces are shaped around my experience looking and painting, rather than from a believable deep space in which objects are placed." She adds: "what I want for the viewer – at first you’re overwhelmed, then your eye experiences everything intimately; maybe that’s how I see the world. That echoes the way I prefer to be close to what I’m painting so stereoscopic vision is activated, and I fully see around things."
The Figure, McCann comments, "responds to David Hockney’s 'Secret Knowledge' to some degree – several artists... openly describe how they use traditional as well as modern techniques like photography, Photoshop, or 3D computer programs... The New York Academy of Art asked me to project-manage a book Rizzoli was interested in doing about the school. Since it’s an academy that has been supported by both Andy Warhol and Prince Charles, and prides itself on both traditional methods, such as anatomy and indirect painting, and on contemporary discourse, I thought it would be compelling to take the long view and explore how and why the classical academic tradition has impacted the present state of figure-based art. "
Anna McNay reviews Refiguring the 50s at Ben Uri Gallery, London, on view through February 22, 2015. The show features works by Eva Frankfurther, Joan Eardley, Josef Herman, LS Lowry, and Sheila Fell.
McNay writes: "Each [painter] is distinctive in his or her style, but a common interest in society, working people as subject matter and the underlying human condition provides a thread that strings the works together and allows the gallery, and curator Sarah MacDougall, to spin a narrative and create a vivid picture of the era and its social change, patchworking together these various viewpoints... Each artist captures the spirit and body of their subjects and their livelihoods. These artists’ works are studies of humanity and the human condition, which, taken together, portray a realistic portrait of postwar Britain in all its aspects."
Piepenbring writes that Andersson "paints with a muted palette—she tends to draw from old photographs and films, theater sets, and well-preserved interiors. There’s a look-but-don’t-touch quality to her subjects, as if she’s visited some quiet museum, or snuck backstage, and has decided to flout the no-photography policy by simply painting the view instead. And so what should feel aloof or antiquated feels intimate, almost even illicit."
John Held, Jr. interviews painter, poet, and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti about his life and work.
Ferlinghetti recalls: "the Six Gallery was associated with the Beats, not with the painters in the Bay Area Figurative group like Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff and David Parks. There was quite a divide there... there was no communication between these two groups. I mean, there was a revolution in poetry going on in one end of North Beach, and a revolution in painting going on at the other end near the Art Institute, and there was no communication between the two."
On his painting career he comments: "I have a hard time being recognized as a painter, and not just a poet who also paints. It’s really a drag to get that all the time, because I was painting before I ever had any poetry published at all, or anything published, as far as writing goes. I was painting in Paris when I wasn’t writing. I was just too busy to promote myself as a painter. I didn’t hang out with any of those San Francisco painters. They didn’t know me, and I didn’t know them. The only one of the figurative group that seemed at all interested in the poets was James Weeks. I used to have coffee with him once in a while in North Beach."
Cooper discusses her series of paintings made during her husband's deployment to Afghanistan. The paintings depict Cooper holding the iPad she used to talk to her husband each day: "...I started to realize that this electronic correspondence really was my experience of [his] deployment. ... So I began to paint the iPad in my hands, this one obsessive view, as if nothing else mattered. Then I began thinking about the screen and the painting surface and how they were alike and different. How the screen emits this cold light and how light in paintings is an illusion made with color and value. How the screen is slick and smooth and paint is messy and layered. I began to think that the iPad was to painting kind of like this long distance relationship was to having my husband with me in flesh and blood."
Larry Groff interviews painter Ann Gale about her work. Gale's paintings will be on view at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, New York in January.
Gale comments: "I am very curious and sometimes obsessive about observation ... The search becomes part of the subject of the painting. The figure is so familiar, it is challenging to see past prejudged ideals of the body and face. Measuring can provide an objective lens for perception... Some of it is very much about the grid ... I think it helps to measure against it. To see a gesture compared to a vertical is much more sensitive ... Other things are not so much a grid but a linear movement where I’ll follow something that is like a ribbon through space. I think it’s the direction my eye is taking. I might go from the floor, over someone’s lap and into the background. I think of it as kind of a path through the painting and through the figure ... As I’m observing, I’m trying not to follow the things with names, I’m trying to follow my way between them and through them ... During the adjustment of the figure, the space and the light itself becomes an emotional character. While there is a precision to the measuring, there is also an intimacy that is revealed and equally crucial to the process. Though the figures are abstracted through this process, they are not neutralized as subjects."
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.