Andy Parkinson writes about two exhibitions at Annely Juda Fine Art, London: Line & Circle and new paintings by Edwina Leapman, on view through May 28, 2013.
For Parkinson, both exhibitions engender silent contemplation. He describes how in a Max Bill painting (in the Line & Circle show), it is "impossible to determine which form is figure and which is ground, it shifts continually, from green figure against blue ground to blue figure with green ground, the colour relationship between them seeming somehow to be just right, as if there was such a thing as 'correct.' Motion is arrested as I fix my attention on this object/image. It’s not just that the experience is a silent one, it’s more that the painting is the visual equivalence of silence: shifting, dependent on our perception of it, between presence and absence."
In the Leapman show, Parkinson notes that "each of the paintings is of two colours only, a ground and a sequence of lines in another colour, sometimes contrasting in hue and sometimes matching, but generally closely matched in tone. Although I feel drawn into that conversation about process, and even more so having seen the Max Bill painting pura III and wanting to compare and contrast them, they do then bid me to become silent again..."
Reese writes that Howard's work "is a balancing act between formal color studies, delicate portraiture, and quiet landscapes. The installation encourages this elemental balancing not only between subject matter, but also physical scale. The artworks therefore work best in collaboration and opposition with one another: rather than reinforcing a sameness, the close proximity and installation defend each work’s uniqueness. It’s a tension within the parts-to-whole mentality, because the parts are autonomously defensive."
Sultan writes: "There are so many beautiful color thoughts in these simple studies... Some of the works were small, quick explorations of color relationships. A fascinating aspect of Albers painting practice was that he never mixed colors; he used color straight from the tube, except for pink and purple, which he mixed. He sampled many different brands of the same hue, writing copious notes on the studies, and in that way, had complete control over the color relationships. I love the note on the bottom of [the] piece: 'Try again'. A quote from Albers tells us: 'I try to create the silence of an icon. That's what I'm after: the meditative icons of the 20th century.' "
Micchelli writes: "What is most striking about Albers’ studies, beginning with the adobe paintings and into the later “Homage to the Square” motifs, is how much they seem, like a piece of architecture, to have been built. The paint is knifed on, and in many of the works the soft, absorbent blotting paper support sucks up just enough oil to leave an ever-so-slight bleed around the swatches’ edges. This material interaction, which gives the impression that the paint is lifting off the paper, or, in other instances, that the surface is a colorfully realized bas-relief sculpture, endows these studies with a thing-ness that elude Albers’ finished works."
Naves writes: "The majority of Josef Albers in America is dedicated to informal studies on paper. Covered with scrawled notations, flurried applications of color and grease stains, they reveal Albers’s rigorous methodology at its most approachable. No Platonic exegeses here, thank you; instead we have the remnants of work-a-day life in the studio. The Morgan show allows us to experience Albers as a man given to curiosity and play—and it prompts double-takes."
The museum notes that the exhibition's focus on exploratory studies "will reveal a private side of Albers's work... On view will be early studies (1930s–early 1940s), studies for Albers's Adobe series, inspired by Mexican architecture (1940s–early 1950s), and studies for Homage to the Square (1950s–1970s). These vibrant sketches provide insights into the artist's working process and, in contrast with the austerity and strict geometry of the final paintings, are remarkable for their freedom and sensuality."
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.