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."
Knight writes that McCleary's "style is part Piero della Francesca, whose crystalline Renaissance paintings stripped away visual disorder to impose simplified geometries with a timeless aura. And it is part Alex Katz, modern master of billboard-style austerity. In between, McCleary renders simple genre scenes -- ordinary people engaged in common activities. A couple dances. A waitress looks up after refreshing a customer’s cup of coffee. A man, glimpsed through an open bedroom door, weighs himself on a bathroom scale. Another man has his hair washed at a salon... In our image-saturated environment, where pictures daily flood the zone, McCleary endows small acts of everyday perception with hushed reverence."
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."
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.