Shaw comments: "It has been said my work is sentimental. I don’t know why sentimentality has to be a negative quality. What I look for in art are the qualities I admire or don’t admire in human beings. And very rarely do I meet people who aren’t sentimental. I have no story, which is why I am a painter. Beckett has a line about itching to make something with nothing to say. You know if you have got the itch."
John Yau reviews John Walker: Looking Out to Sea at Alexandre Gallery, New York, on view through December 22, 2015.
Yau writes that "[Walker] embraces the obdurate world of mud and dissipation – the changing seasons of Seal Point, with its bracing tides, cold sunlight and washed up trash and debris. From the jagged stripes to the vibrating patterns to the clashing forms to the gritty surfaces, everything in these paintings has been lived intensely. Such passion has nothing to do with the prevailing narratives of art, and its preference for bluster and irony, but it does have a lot to do with painting, and why I, for one, go to Walker’s paintings to get the news of what it means to be alive in an indifferent universe."
John Goodrich reviews Ying Li: Paintings at John Davis Gallery, Hudson, New York, on view through November 8, 2015.
Goodrich observes that "what’s most remarkable about these paintings is the way they combine this indulgent technique with a respectful eye for traditional composition. Her paintings reflect the visual aspect of real scenes — landscapes in Switzerland and Maine, as the titles indicate — and despite their violent surfaces, they locate forms with pictorial, if not topographical, conviction... As with any capable colorist, Li’s hues don’t simply depict objects but impart a sense of presence. A certain freewheeling discipline gives coherence to these dislocations of color, ordering their intervals across the canvas. “The Last Tree” may have the most tortured surface of all, but we sense a hard yellow receding in space as a sun-splashed path, framed by the elusive blue-greens of shadowed foliage — furiously knitted as strokes, but evanescent in hue. A few jabs of floating white establish flashes of sky behind; streaks of deep blue-blacks, pressed directly from the tube, stand as the adamant trunk of a tree. These events connect in frenetic harmony — or perhaps, in a unity of disharmonies. Is the single stab of pale, green yellow a distant sunlit tree? It’s impossible to say, but it convinces as a natural, observed phenomenon."
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."
This Thursday, October 15, I am pleased to participate in a discussion with fellow artist and blogger Sharon Butler and artist and UNCG professor Barbara Campbell Thomas titled Building on Maud's Legacy: Place and Being an Artist. The discussion will take place at 6:00 pm at the Weatherspoon Art Museum Auditorium in Greensboro, North Carolina and is one of several events to accompanying the exhibition Remembering Maud: A Selection of Her Paintings at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, on view from September 24 - November 8, 2015.
Maud Gatewood, Genre II, 1966, acrylic on plywood, 48 x 40 inches (Weatherspoon Art Museum)
The conversation will center around alternative career strategies (including blogs) open to artists today, including those who live outside major art centers. These strategies are the manifestation of what Donald Kuspit noted, in a 1977 essay, “technology … has obliterated the meaning of regionalism.” 1 This subject is inspired by Maud Gatewood, an artist who lived nearly her whole life in North Carolina, a fact that often led her to be labeled a “regionalist” painter despite an ambitious and critically successful career far beyond her home state. Even in the early 1950s, when Gatewood was a student, the “regional” distinction was becoming less meaningful.
Coming of age as an artist in that period, Gatewood benefitted from contact with some of the greatest artists of the day, many of whom travelled to North Carolina to teach at Black Mountain College. Gatewood did not attend Black Mountain, but nonetheless, she received critiques from both Philip Guston and Franz Kline. She also travelled to Europe, where she briefly studied with Oskar Kokoschka.
Jeff Jahn reviews Seeing Nature at the Portland Art Museum (PAM), Oregon, on view though January 10, 2016.
Jahn writes that the show, "drawn from Paul Allen's collection ... is a kind of survey of landscape paintings throughout history and as such maps the shifting expectations that viewers have for looking at what we consider the outdoors. One thing I very much like about the exhibition is the way it treats cityscapes as a part of nature and the landscape, thus to 'See Nature' we have to see our own role in it."
Anna McNay reviews Lowry by the Sea at Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, on view through November 1, 2015.
McNay writes: "Mention LS Lowry (1887-1976) and most people will picture grim, industrial cityscapes from Britain’s north-west, with smoke-belching factories; men bent nearly double, hastening along crowded pavements; grey drizzle; and children playing in the street. But Lowry was as inspired by the coast as he was the city." This exhibition, she notes, "showcases Lowry’s intense relationship with the ocean. Spread across two small, dark rooms – which echo the mood of the works – visitors gain not just an overview of an aspect of the artist’s work that is usually overlooked, but also an intimate insight into his character, thoughts and self-perception."
Lopas comments: "There is a great deal of painting that I love, have looked at, and learned from. But resonance is something different from that. For a painting to resonate it should be with you when you paint. It should guide you when you make decisions. It should occur to you in moments of reverie. For me those are individual artists or specific paintings, rather than periods. That’s because I think all works of art that exist are in some sense contemporary. If you can stand in front of it now, you can experience it totally on your own terms, regardless of its place in history... For me I have learned that painting is a process that produces a state of mind. It is best when no other concerns invade it. The judgment of others or yourself, the reception of the art world, are hindrances. Paintings are best when made from a state of pure absolute personal need. You must give yourself permission and space to get to it and then notice when you are ripe for working well."
Christopher Volpe writes about the paintings of Wolf Kahn.
Volpe notes: "That Kahn’s work is 'pleasing' (he’s likely the most popular colorist in America) belies its unsentimental formalism. In fact, his fields of blazing color are deeply nuanced and almost as a rule moderated by subtle countering complexities applied in complements, neutrals and composite grays. As his friend Louis Finkelstein described it, abstract 'vectors and color tensions' in Kahn’s paintings 'elicit alternative readings.'"
Culp comments: "To me, Cezanne made landscape painting into real golem painting. Before that landscapes were usually the background of things. I studied the 17th century Dutch landscape painters for a while along with Cezanne. Dutch paintings are wonderfully dramatic in the light and shadows, the use of the horizon, you feeling apart of the landscape and even the paint. You can see a mountain so many kinds of ways. The Chinese know it too, the mountain continues to elude you. The author of 'Arctic Dreams' writer Barry Lopez says, 'Nature eludes you, it changes its mood so quickly you will never be able to define it.' He says you can go out and pick up a leaf or remember the scent of a bush, or see some scat, he says you try to put all these pieces together of the land that you love and hope to define it. He said, 'The land will always elude you.' And it does. Painting is a slow way of seeing. Understanding what you’re seeing."
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.