Joanne Mattera posts an extensive overview of abstract painting on view at the 2013 Miami Art Fairs.
Mattera's selections from among the "thousands of paintings at the fairs" includes works by Agathe de Bailliencourt, Agnes Martin, Alex Hubbard, Amy Feldman, Anke Weyer, Anne Truitt, Chris Martin, Craig Taylor, Deanna Lee, Enoc Perez, Federico Cattaneo, Gabriel Hartley, Georg Baselitz, Grace Hartigan, Günther Förg, Jaq Chartier, Joan Mitchell, Jon Pestoni, Joshua Aster, Keltie Ferris, Louise Fishman, Melissa Brown, Morris Louis, Norbert Prangenberg, Per Kirkeby, Polly Apfelbaum, Sachin Kaeley, Sam Gilliam, Shaun O'Dell, Theaster Gates, and Todd Kelly.
D. Creahan reviews the exhibition Per Kirkeby: Recent Paintings at Michael Werner Gallery, London, on view through July 27, 2013.
Creahan writes: "A tangible sense of degradation runs through the canvases of artist Per Kirkeby, currently on view at Michael Werner in London. Walking a fine line between impressionist figuration and pure abstraction, his works seem balanced on a pin, teetering between a fully realized environment and complete structural breakdown, a process the artist acknowledges as 'an ongoing process of sedimentation.' The first exhibition of new work since his 2009 retrospective at Tate Modern, Kirkeby’s new exhibition sees him returning to the same interrogations and explorations of the natural environment, as well as his own interpretation of it."
Dan Coombs reviews two London painting exhibitions: Merlin James at Parasol Unit (through August 10) and Per Kirkeby at Michael Werner (through July 27).
Coombs writes: "In a world of spectacular logic there’s something refreshing about a painter who refuses to pin down his subjects. Letting the motifs of his work emerge, as if by magic, from the formal matrix of his paintings, Merlin James risks whimsicality but instead finds something new in the easily forgotten. Like a burnished coin found in the crevice of a pocket James’s paintings have an almost uncanny familiarity, as though we are rediscovering something previously kept hidden. His boats, his trees, his chugging trains and lolling bridges are fleetingly familiar, like memories, landmarks on a journey through an intricate mental landscape... Kirkeby’s subject is the raw presence of nature, and presence is his forte; presence, fullness and fecundity are everywhere. The paintings have a presentness that is almost Byzantine in its mosaic of gestures, and it is therefore somewhat predictable in the massive Untitled (2013) , the largest painting in the show, to see a snake slithering along the floor, and then to notice emerging heads, perhaps of Adam and Eve and to the left perhaps the profile of God. It’s not that the work is not impressive. Like an opera, it tries to blow you away with its heightened gestures. Yet it feels strangely theatrical despite the obvious striving for authenticity."
Nicolai Hartvig interviews painter Per Kirkeby about his work and career.
Kirkeby comments: " In the 1980s, when I decided to begin to paint in oil on canvas in the great European tradition — a decisive turning point for me — there was an openness and an incertitude to the work. Each painting was different, and that is what I wanted. But through the 1990s I developed signatures, somewhat radical and unmistakably mine. Francis Picabia remains my hero. The more you dive into his work, the wilder it becomes. He painted the skewed Cubist paintings that we all know. Then came the kitsch works. And he ended up doing these strange, abstract works that are impossible to grasp. Whenever you think you’ve got him, he’s always moved along. That’s what I aspire to do."
McMahon writes: "If you take a formal element of Kirkeby’s early works and follow it into his mature paintings, which begin in earnest around 1980 and comprise the majority of the Phillips exhibition, you can see how his language develops to address this big theme; that is, how our experience of the world is informed by the complexities of seeing. Let’s take scale, which in the mature works is used to create space by both conventional means (large forms come forward, small forms recede, those that overlap find their relative places as a result), and by unconventional ones (wherein, for instance, a grove of distant trees will be painted on top of a form in the near space). The function of the conventional scale is obvious enough; it creates literal space. To understand the function of the unconventional scale shifts, it’s helpful to have Kirkeby’s early works nearby. Outsized scale, used in works like Regicide to emphasize narrative components (The bird has taken flight! The fox has darted away into the night!), has been repurposed in the mature works to emphasize the narrative of looking."
In the film, Kirkeby discusses the experience of seeing his entire body of work represented in a single exhibition. He notes remarks that "it doesn't care too much if it's from the 60's or from last year - it's kind of the same thing... apparently there are certain structures, certain ways of organizing a painting that's there, that I'm born with as a painter."
"Like Willem de Kooning, Kirkeby is a virtuoso at creating unity from... visual chaos... We Americans tend to think that Abstract Expressionism is a style of the past, dependent upon a worldview that no longer commands assent. And we have become suspicious of painterly virtuosity. This exhibition shows that we are wrong - Kirkeby’s splendid paintings demonstrate that Abstract Expressionism is a living tradition."
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.