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."
Peter Walsh reviews Van Gogh and Nature at the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, on view through September 13, 2015.
Walsh writes that "the elimination of the haunted self portraits, including the icon images of the artist with a bandaged ear, shifts attention away from van Gogh the half-savage tortured soul and towards van Gogh the intelligent, enthusiastic, sophisticated, deliberate, and extraordinarily talented creator of intensely original works of art... What is perhaps most remarkable of all about this exhibition is that you can go from beginning to end without picking up a clue about van Gogh’s turbulent personal life. Instead, you see an artist approaching his chosen career with a deliberate plan, concisely and brilliantly carried out, proceeding by distinct stages until he reaches, and makes full use of, the peak of his powers, which he does until the very end of his life."
Kennedy notes that the show will feature "15 major paintings ... that show the artist’s attempts to capture the bright blue sky and light and the harsh lines of the jagged coast. They were all painted in the few years of intense creativity after Lanyon looked up one day while walking along a Cornish clifftop, saw three gliders pass silently overhead, and pledged to join them."
Van Proyen concludes: "Despite whatever claim one might want to make about the complicated relation of Turner’s work to Romanticism (for starters, his politics were of the type that would never embrace the idea of “liberty leading the people”), the important point is that Turner did something with that influence, and that thing is what we see in this exhibition. It captures the precise hinge moment where the radical subjectivity of Romanticism pivots to a new place, where artists dedicated themselves to exploring the tangible relationship between experience and the materials that would allow them to capture those experiences."
Faith McClure reviews Alex Katz, This Is Now at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, on view through September 6, 2015.
McClure observes: "What sets Katz apart from the long history of realism, as well as the great canon of abstractionists, is that, at his very best, he can achieve 'realness' through a completely unexpected entry point — his pared-down aesthetic of broad strokes and giant flat planes of color, his subtle gesture and capturing of light. Katz, as Margaret Graham references in her catalog essay, actually disrupts the requirement that realism be anchored to a certain particularity of detail. Instead, details hit you from a distance. You notice his nuance as a broader sensation rather than as a point of specificity. An incredible feat with such economy of paint, when Katz hits it, he nails it."
Altoon Sultan considers American landscape paintings in the collection of the Hood Museum of Art.
Sultan begins noting that many of the painters "depicted the local New Hampshire landscape, or that of New England. America––that vast 'virgin' land, unpeopled in the eyes of the European settlers, close to God in its awe inspiring grandeur––was a great subject for many artists. Before the 19th century, landscape was so low in the academic hierarchy that many artists painted them only as backdrops to a story or moral tale. With romanticism and the concept of the sublime, landscape came into its own. A small painting like that of Thomas Doughty showed grandeur of mountain peaks, the fear in the blasted tree, the smallness of the human floating within this space and light."
Phyllis Tuchman reviews Brand-New and Terrific: Alex Katz in the 1950s at the Colby College Museum of Art, on view through October 18, 2015.
Tuchman observes: "Sixty-some years later, all the work still looks brand-new and terrific. As it was, these singular portraits, Maine landscapes, and uncluttered interiors never got their day in court. Katz, for starters, went against the grain and painted small-sized, representational pictures on Masonite panels for much of the 1950s... In ten short years, Alex Katz went from being an art student to a fledgling artist to a mature painter and collage and cutout maker."
Wykes comments: "I find looking and returning to the same subject over numerous sessions rewarding. I tend to go deep into a subject—not wide... Observation is vital. I have always got great enjoyment from seeing. I feel privileged that I have this gift to see. I also think it is to do with retaining the child’s eye of the world before label’s for object’s disguise the subject... I am not concerned with depiction or likeness. I am battling with my preconceptions and how to make a spatial world work on a flat surface. Painting is abstract. It about universal feelings. But on a less formal level, active looking has all the rich trappings of meditation or prayer or oneness, the joy and surprise during a rare moment of lucidity."
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.