Louisa Buck interviews painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, whose exhibition Verses After Dusk is on view at Serpentine Gallery, London through September 13, 2015.
Yiadom-Boakye comments: "For a long time now, I haven’t thought of what I do as portraits—I see them more as figurative paintings. I realised quite early on that I was not so interested in painting people whom I knew or doing the classic portrait from life, although I did it a lot when I was younger, because to be able to improvise, it’s important to train yourself how to look, and to be aware of how a body is composed or how a face sits. But once I tried to paint this guy who was really an incredible character and I was so disappointed with the outcome: I didn’t capture anything of him. Then I realised that I wasn’t interested so much in trying to capture someone who was actually there as I was in just the painting itself, and in letting that lead and decide what a person’s facial expression does, wh ere a hand sits or what a gesture is. So I was much more drawn to that as a way of working, to work from a composite of drawings, scrapbooks, found images, photographs—anything—and to bring it all together so it would be exactly what I wanted it to be: to play God."
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."
Yaniv observes: "Each of Burg’s portraits evokes a distinct sense of staged theatrical drama, in which both the artist and her animate or inanimate models co-inhabit. She affirms that her models have to be people who are close to her, preferably women, and adds that dressing them up becomes like 'a bond of two kids enraptured in a make-believe game.'"
Phyllis Tuchman reviews Brand-New and Terrific: Alex Katz in the 1950s at the Colby College Museum of Art, on view through October 18, 2015.
Tuchman observes: "Sixty-some years later, all the work still looks brand-new and terrific. As it was, these singular portraits, Maine landscapes, and uncluttered interiors never got their day in court. Katz, for starters, went against the grain and painted small-sized, representational pictures on Masonite panels for much of the 1950s... In ten short years, Alex Katz went from being an art student to a fledgling artist to a mature painter and collage and cutout maker."
From the poscast post intrduction: "In his own words, Auerbach is suspicious of too much thinking: 'thinking about thinking', he says, 'isn’t true thinking…If one’s really thinking, one’s not aware of it'. Doing, for the artist, is everything."
Megan Abrahams reviews Julie Heffernan's recent exhibition Pre-Occupations at Mark Moore Gallery, Culver City.
Abrahams begins: "Dramatic, intense, surreal and rich with metaphor, Julie Heffernan’s recent series of large figurative tableaux transport us to an apparently post-apocalyptic place and time conceived from the artist’s imagination. In her elegantly realized, often disturbing vision, the earth’s environment appears to have deteriorated, propelling humanity back to a more rustic, primitive and desperate way of life. Layered with beauty, conflict and tension, there is much at stake in the world as portrayed by Heffernan. Her overriding concern is the man-made destruction wrought by climate change, overpopulation and ecological imbalance, which she articulates in the tradition of historical narrative painting interwoven with her own surreal vernacular and elements of the Baroque."
Jennifer Samet interviews painter Henry Taylor about his life and work.
In her introduction Samet notest that Taylor's "paintings bear that emotional porosity. His painting world is his personal world, and our shared cultural world. He makes solo and group portraits of his brothers, his lovers and friends, and people truly living on the edge, along with black athletes, heroes, legends fallen from grace, and iconic victims of societal racism and hate. Broad, color-saturated forms with painterly moments are orchestrated into clear arrangements. Bits of text are often incorporated, as well as singular symbolic attributes (the objects the sitters hold, the clothes they wear) that tell the story of who they are — glimpses of their internal lives, their relationship to the world and each other."
Faith McClure interviews painter Alex Katz on the occasion of the exhibition Alex Katz, This Is Now at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, on view through September 6, 2015.
Katz comments: "Style makes everything cohesive. The old guys said style becomes content and content becomes form. That’s the abstract expressionism bible. In my paintings, style is not form. There’s this interview with Francesco Clemente where we argue. He thinks it’s form, but I think style is the real content... Willpower and character, and trusting yourself and the parts of yourself that don’t make sense. Painting is sort of like a community activity. You represent a lot of people when you paint. It’s not a genius thing. It’s a collective thing. And the other part of it is that you have an idea of what art should be, and you hang onto that. It changes its faces. Dealing with something like reality, you’re dealing with a variable. So every solution you make is obsolete, and you have to make another solution."
Mira Schor writes about Leon Golub: Riot at Hauser & Wirth, New York, on view through Jue 20, 2015.
Schor observes: "Golub is a painter. He is a political painter, consciously so. He strives for the heroic, via the anti-heroic, but irony is not his calling card and materiality, flayed scumbled paint on unstretched raw linen, is the embodied expression of his moral vision of the world. His sources are often photographic, but the body of marble aged by millennia, of paint applied expressionistically in action painting, are the means of communication. He is our Delacroix, our Gericault, our Courbet, not our Duchamp, our Warhol, or Koons, nor even our Haacke, but we have preferred to honor the artists who it is felt by some as having fulfilled the narrative of institutional critique, commodity culture, new imaging technologies. Despite everything that has happened since abstract expressionism, we still seem to be in a Greenbergian revolt against the political in painting, especially if it takes place within the language of abstract expressionism, of old fashioned painting. This gets close perhaps to the source of the curious case of Leon Golub, famous and honored yet not honored as he should be in his native land."
Christopher Joy and Zachary Keeting visit the studio of painter Heidi Hahn.
Hahn comments: "I'm such a figurative artist that ... it's not a painting until there's a person in it... even though there's a lot of abstracted moments within this figuration that come together ... I've always been that kind of person where I'm interested in the story of how people live, how they interact with others, how they carry themselves..."
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.