Thomas Gebremedhin interviews painter Lisa Yuskavage whose work is on view at David Zwirner, New York, through June 13, 2015.
Yuskavage comments: "I’ve gotten cease and desist letters. They’ve called me pornographic, like it’s a bad thing. We are living in a world where you have to go to battle to have an open mind. People are a little more used to seeing what I do now, but when I was making my early work they were really not prepared for it. And I loved what I was doing so much, because I knew it was right. If it feels so good, it’s got to be right. I stopped thinking about making art that looked like anything else. I had a direct line to this thing inside of myself. It’s like cooking and saying, I have a hankering for this and a little bit of that. You’re not working from a recipe because the goal is not a known goal. You’re putting something together based on cravings. I wanted to make art that I was hoping to see and hadn’t seen. To be able to get back to painting was a real act of defiance for me, especially against myself. When I got back to it I felt like I was breathing air for the first time."
Blood writes: "Lawrence conceived the Migration Series as a single work composed of 60 parts ... He began by writing the captions, which were then edited by his wife Gwendolyn Knight, and then proceed to prepare all the panels with gesso and laid in the composition. As a young artist working on a limited budget, he chose inexpensive materials: pencil, ink, tempera and hardboard. Thanks to an artist’s grant, he was able to rent a studio large enough to let him view and work on all 60 paintings simultaneously. To ensure the formal cohesion of the project, Lawrence began with the darkest colours and applied them to each canvas before progressing to the next pigment. Working in this way allowed him to maintain the visual and spiritual unity of the project, and the clear repetition of colour across the panels creates a sense of movement and rhythm."
Goodrich writes that "what is especially rewarding about [Dubrow's] latest work... is the way it continues to explore and evolve. In his case, the evolution isn’t towards a more provocative technique or motif – if anything, these aspects of his work have taken on a more utilitarian cast. The articulateness lies elsewhere, and in a trait that may not be evident to every viewer: in his forceful and eloquent arabesques of color. If your definition of active color is simply high-chroma hues or academic, volumetric modeling, his particular gifts may not be apparent. But if you see in color a chance of compositional purposefulness – as evidenced by painters ranging from Chardin to Matisse – Dubrow’s work will consistently impress."
Discussing his series of paintings of bathers, Moyer comments: "The Barnes and Philly collections are so full of bather-themed paintings by Cezanne, Renoir, and Matisse that I just accepted 'Bathers' as a subject for painting that was as common-place to me as 'Landscape' or 'Still life'. I admire Cezanne’s approach to the subject above all others. Particularly, I like how the figures in his paintings exist as a representation of humanity. I don’t see them as individuals nor do I see narratives to be figured out—especially in the later works. They are not all about abstraction either, his figures seem to exist to echo our sensuality and to serve the overall effect of his painting. For me this subject feels right and I plan on following it wherever it wants to go."
Sara Roffino reviews a recent show of paintings by Peter Williams at Novella Gallery, New York.
Roffino writes: "If one were to glance briefly at Williams’s works, the bright palette and carnivalesque scenes might belie the violence depicted. And, even after spending time with the paintings, processing that violence and thinking about the very real murders they depict, the elements of humor allow the viewer an out. Though the moment of Eric Garner’s death is depicted in 'Untitled' (30-by-40 inches), the brutal violence of that moment is offset both formally and ideologically with a close-up of the police officer’s pink (and hairy) butt crack, bulging forth from his belted uniform. It’s a challenging—perhaps subversive—gesture Williams is offering to his viewers, the absurdity softening the potentially didactic nature of the works."
Colvin writes: "New to the artist’s work is the appropriation of the still life as a foreground element to the background landscape. This is a motif drawn most explicitly from Jane Freilicher ... In contrast to Freilicher, however, Iliatova’s floral arrangements are denser, more spatially complicated, more uncertain in their life cycle; some flowers are wilting, losing color and vitality, while others are in full bloom and erect. The physical placement of the still lifes — up front — and in their embodiment of elapsed time become the silent narrators of what we do see and complicit witnesses to what we don’t."
Harris recalls: "I had a break-through in my painting when I began thinking metaphorically. It started with a vein in a forehead, then the realization that everything could be vascular. So tendrils of hair became capillary, as did tendrils of light, stripes in a shirt were arterial, a scrunchie hairband a thrombosis. This was a key for me to unlocking invention... I want my paintings to function like an eyelid, veering from dry to wet, inside to outside, opaque to transparent, form to formless, mute to aggressive, space curved outward toward the viewer, held in by fragile surface tension, the picture plane as membrane, the entire painting an eyelid."
John Seed interviews painter Nathan Lewis whose exhibition Light is the Lion is on view at Fernando Luis Alvarez Gallery, Stamford, Connecticut through April 18, 2015.
Lewis comments: "I've always loved exploring abandoned spaces. 2011 is when I first decided to paint them. I've always been more of a figure painter and object (form) oriented. The factories were a departure from that mode of thinking and more related to settings. Although figures are in most of the paintings, the architecture and composition play a larger role in the psychology of the piece. Some of these spaces that are collapsing provided an experience of light that was uncommon and made me contemplate anew the strangeness and beauty of light. I think that is what prompted me to the series of works. The unfamiliar forms provided the challenge of inventing new personal translations of what I saw and felt into the formal language of painting. The factories themselves are ruins of an industriousness that is foreign to us today."
Bell notes that "Drexler depicts her subjects in a very straightforward manner, usually against monochromatic backgrounds. The figures appear uncomfortable and still, isolated in a foreign scene. The saturnine scenes are further augmented by the exhibition’s curation, with works sparsely hung upon stark white walls and strong white lighting. A glance across the room confuses the mind: vibrant colors that grab the viewer’s attention are juxtaposed with scenes of death, rape, and assault. Empty purple, blue, and green faces stare. Death is hot on the heels of a smiling Marilyn Monroe in 'Marilyn Pursued by Death' (1963)–a reminder that the true human experience is ephemeral."
McKenzie writes: " ... [I]n 1988, Kiff’s exhibition at Fischer Fine Art in King Street, St James’s was my first experience of his work at firsthand; it was the exquisite colour he employed, the understated poetic human encounters with nature, and the wisdom expressed through dream-like images that resonate to this day. He struck me as a brave artist and a serious, well-informed man who, at times, produced hundreds of works on a single theme. Often reluctant to exhibit works because he was uncertain whether or not they were complete, the result is an abundance of superb work that remains available 14 years after his death, for Marlborough Fine Art to exhibit."
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.