Hartigan writes that "[Harris's] new series mostly consists of roughly-painted torsos, seen from the front. The outline of arms and a body sometimes emerges from the monochromatic ground via thinly painted marks, or is announced loudly with a broad-brushed line. There are faces, but they are depicted in ways that seem to cancel themselves out: a quick, semi-abstract mark, furtive smudges of paint, a collaged face cut out from another painting... Certainly these works present an accomplished artist asking questions about her own practice, questions such as: How can I paint the body in a more immediate way? What sort of mark delineates the content of the body or the edge of the body? At what point can a painting be considered finished?"
Stern writes: "Having not really focused on Bacon’s work in quite a while I was blown away by how fresh, shocking, and incredibly beautiful the paintings are... The paintings in the exhibit reflect a change of mood in Bacon’s work over time. Work of the earlier decades portray the agonies of man, masses of ectoplasm, flesh, bone, and loneliness, whereas his later works give way to calmer psycho-landscapes. Gone are the piles of flesh, replaced by a vision more stripped to its essentials, both in terms of painting and psychology."
Canier comments: "I have always gone back and forth between painting from life and painting from my imagination. I’ve made figure compositions that were very ambitious and difficult, trying to invent everything from scratch and then I have also always made these little collages. All of these different ways of working fed on each other in ways that I didn’t even understand at the time... I have a lot of ideas about people, things I want to say about people, the places where they live and the way they relate to each other in those places. I am also moved by the way in which people relate to the past and their memories. Memories inhabit places as well and imbue them with meaning, both personal and collective. I don’t feel like I can do justice to this idea without the working representationally... The formal qualities of images communicate ideas, which is where painting has its real power. When a literal idea is imbedded in the formal visual language of a painting, that’s what really interests me. If the literal stuff is all you’re thinking about and the formal is left by the wayside, then it becomes sentimental or cheap."
Dufresne remarks: "I am trying to use some of those strategies that I find in video and music. How can I make painting that is not just navel-gazing, all about paint? I would not stay interested if I didn’t have other things going through my head. Sustained engagement in the work is difficult for many people. How can I stay engaged in the painting, in the process, and in the problems that come out of the process? I need to know that something fun is going to happen in the process of making it. If I just tell you a joke, I’m in and out so fast. I am constantly thinking about movies, politics, sex, love, and beauty – the things we all think about. I want to use those strategies in painting. But a painting must be an experience you could not have anywhere else. Painting is the hardest thing, because you can’t control it; you have to follow it. But we keep trying."
Viktor Witkowski reviews Austin Lee: Nothing Personal at Postmasters Gallery, New York, on view through December 5, 2015.
Witkowski writes: "Even though many reviews have focused on Lee’s translation of the digital (tablet) into the analog (acrylic on canvas), Nothing Personal is also a study of portraiture and its role within contemporary painting." He concludes that in Lee's work: "What we are given to work with is never complete and always evolving - in other words, these three paintings demonstrate that beyond their smooth surface lies a more profound and less articulated space, where things human reverberate contingently through paint."
Christopher Howard reports on a recent artist talk given by painter Clarity Haynes at Trestle Gallery, Brooklyn, New York.
Howard writes: "Because she works from life, [Haynes] gets to know not only the bodies she depicts but also the person inside them, like the trans bodybuilder Roxanne, whom she finished painting in 2012. 'I really enjoy the long process of slowly getting to know the body,' Haynes said, 'the specific body.' ... The general form of the Breast Portrait Project—frontal view, centered composition, neutral background, and a body cropped at the neck and waist—remains consistent. What varies is the shape, color, and texture of the woman, and also things like necklaces and clothing (pants). The artist realized the importance of such accoutrements after a year’s worth of comments by visitors to her studio."
John Goodrich reviews Let’s Get Figurative at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, New York, on view through November 15, 2015.
Goodrich notes: "Absorbing such artworks, one realizes that the coherence of the installation can be partly credited to the intense conversation between them — to their shared enthusiasm for quirky subjects, evocative materials and techniques, and askance views on cultural norms. Less uniformly evident is an appreciation of the kind of pictorial tensions one might find in a Matisse, Mondrian, or Rothko: the way a particular weight of blue, pressed to a corner, leverages an opposing red. It’s an experience of color energies that lies nascent on an artist’s palette and reaches its full, poignant expression in the great works in museums, but can’t be fully discerned on a computer monitor or tablet."
Micchelli writes: "Dispensing entirely with modernist emotional distancing, Gillespie’s most effective works go well beyond a mere horror of the flesh; in his own private netherworld, any act of intimacy — incarnated in his sensual, exacting brushstrokes — is a step into the abyss... Perhaps the most disturbing paintings in the show are the ones that relinquish multifarious imagery and instead present the artist in unadorned self-portraits...That these two grinning portraits ... were completed the year he took his own life lends them an almost unbearably melancholy edge. The disjunction between their apparently willful good cheer and the descent that followed would seem to embody Gillespie’s professed themes of 'insanity, chaos, weirdness,' compounded by compositions that feel deliberately ungainly, unvarnished and disconcertingly real."
Blog post revisiting Steven Litt's 2007 profile of painter Dana Schutz republished on the occasion of Schutz's exhibition Fight in an Elevator at Petzel Gallery, New York.
The exhibition press release notes that "Schutz’s figures are placed within compressed interiors where they are forced to struggle against the boundaries of their painted environments and up onto the physical edge of the canvas. Her characters find themselves helpless in the mouth of a lion, exchanging blows in a mirrored elevator, or somnambulating down a narrow staircase. These highly structured spaces, which are both intensely public and utterly private, point to how Schutz tackles the subject of interiority—rather than offering a voyeuristic view, her frontal facing subjects stare directly back at the viewer, seemingly with the desire to extend outside of themselves."
Lampert writes: "With a portrait his aim is not exactly to convey likeness, more an experience: how the person looks (including under the skin); what’s going on in their life (and his); the conditions of that evening. Like an apparition, something totally unforeseen, possibly lasting for just seconds, may spring from making a few brush strokes, establishing an area of truth which ‘might actually expand into a whole truth’. The goal is a set of connections between the masses, the space, the sensations and a picture with a tense surface character."
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.