Christopher Volpe blogs about the exhibition Eric Aho: Ice Cuts at the Hood Museum, Dartmouth University, on view through March 13, 2016.
Volpe writes: "A stark, angular void edges out the largely blank, skewed border of remaining white space in the canvases of Vermont painter Eric Aho’s series of Ice Cut paintings. To call these paintings abstractions would not be incorrect, nor would it be accurate. The paintings depict the hole cut in ice, or avanto, as it’s called in Finnish, intended for the bracing plunge following the heat of a Finnish sauna. Aho, of Finnish descent, first painted the motif (to scale) in 2008, during his family’s regular recreational outings to a frozen pond in New Hampshire. Since then, he has immersed himself in a multifaceted investigation of the dark void produced by sawing into the thick ice."
Amenoff comments: "Landscape, as an idea, has to do with longing. Paintings are alternate worlds – worlds unto themselves, manifested by each artist to satisfy a desire to fill a void. One summer I taught with Per Kirkeby at Skowhegan and he said that paintings are more real than actual experience. I thought about that, and took it to mean that painting is a distillation. A painting takes some aspect of the world — maybe an emotional state — isolates it, and makes it more potent. A painting is edited and condensed, so the flavors are sharper and brighter and stronger. It can be as magical as an Agnes Martin. Her work does that: isolates, distills, and creates a world. With an unsuccessful painting, or when parts of a painting are annoying, you are not able to believe in that world."
Roberta Smith reviews paintings by Sally Michel at D. Wigmore Fine Art, New York, on view through February 13, 2016.
Smith writes: "This excellent exhibition sheds needed light, presenting about 30 of Michel’s paintings from the 1950s... Mostly landscapes, they are clumsier but also more intense, less Olympian than [husband Milton] Avery’s works. They tend to be smaller and richer in color, which compresses their force. But most important, Michel dissented from her husband’s spare use of paint applied in thin washes of color (which presaged stain painting). Her mountain and lake views are actively worked in contrasting textures and patterns."
Greenwald writes: "Despite all they have in common, in this show [Freilicher's and Wilson's] differences stand out. While working in the same place at the same time, moving in the same circles, each developed a unique style. Wilson’s career culminates in large, pared-down landscapes from memory. Nearly abstract in their reductionism, Wilson’s moody canvases convey her state of mind as much as the surrounding marsh and beach. Freilicher, on the other hand, has a maximalist approach, painting everything she sees with gusto."
Halasz writes that Parlato's "earlier work ... was conspicuously (if attractively) dripped and/or poured." In this show Halasz adds, "Parlato employs acrylic and molding paste to create many small to medium-sized, irregular but rounded, solid and tidier shapes on canvas." Walker's works, Halasz notes, "are constructed mostly with short, straight green lines scrubbed back and forth: they look something like scratches and even more like pine or spruce or balsam needles... It is as though the artist wanted to create an image with a double level of meaning: on the one hand, it is a macrocosmic branch or even a whole tree, but at the same time it is a microcosm of the needles on that tree."
Pardee comments: " I combine work inside and outside the studio. I’m really concerned with perception, with observing, through painting on site, which I then combine and edit in the studio. That editing process goes in two directions. One is going in and dissecting the painting by using colored patterns to break up the image or enlarge on it. The other is putting several of these paintings together in a grid, and letting one interact with another to create a composite image. In the studio I’m also constantly observing the effect of one color on another and making changes... When you’re looking at something you’re in the space, and your body is in there and you have movement — which means rhythm and your sense of where things are, and how big and heavy things are. That is where I want to start — with your own body in relation to what’s around you."
Durrell writes: "What is happening here is that [Carothers], trained when Abstract Expressionism ruled the art schools, in his own work turns to representational depiction and makes abstraction an ingredient but not the reason for being. Carothers’ paintings pull the viewer in, are not quite literal so produce the feel of fiction, of stories not yet completed. Windows have been a frequent element although he’s not using them as often just now. He says they are 'a way for art to take you to different places' and was drawn by the way other artists used them and their metaphysical suggestion of 'inside and outside, imagined realities and their combining structural internal space.'"
Rebecca Allan remembers painter Robert Berlind. Berlind's work will be on view at Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., New York from January 9 - February 13, 2016.
Allan writes: "The movement of Berlind’s vision reminded me of the gestures of a Tai Chi practitioner, gradually encompassing all dimensions of space (and time). We sense the scanning and tracking motion of his eyes as he sought and isolated particular fragments of the landscape ...This working method resulted in a way of saying – through his paintings – Here, look at this. Pay attention—this snow shadow, this shivering reflection is really magnificent. Berlind’s particular contribution came through the manner in which he superimposed layers of space and distance, foreground and background, as though the substances within each spatial level were compressed under a microscope’s cover slide, or seen through sheets of Mylar, one above the other. This layering and flattening of the levels of space contributed to a straightforward coolness and precision in his work can bring to mind Winslow Homer’s ravens waiting to attack a fox in the snow, or his hunted ducks careening above waves in mid-air. For me, Berlind’s approach to pictorial depth also metaphorically suggested that all things are (ideally) created equal, and that the hierarchies we impose on life are essentially artificial and divisive."
Greenwald writes that both Harris and Ray's works are products of "expeditions to view Renaissance masterworks in the churches and museums of Italy and France... Ray’s postcard-sized pictures are perfectly suited to the narrow walls of Steven Harvey Fine Arts ... Based on her own travel photos of the architecture and frescos of Ravenna and Assisi, Rome and Florence, Ray’s artwork about artwork has unfussy yet precise brushwork." Greenwald notes that "Harris says [in his travels] he was struck by 'how images were embedded in architecture, how, with framing and woodcarving, they became independent objects for devotion, holding the attention and awe of the viewer.' Upon his return, he began embedding his own paintings, albeit contemporary designs with Day-Glo colors, in elaborate frames."
Landes writes: "Both born in 1924, [Freilicher and Wilson] were two of the very last of a glittering and venerated generation of artists and writers left standing before their deaths just a few weeks apart last winter... they were full members of an artistic, literary, and cultural scene responsible for some of the most acclaimed art of their time and of any other. That their work had a more naturalistic or illusionistic approach at a time when such choices were deemed 'old hat,' as Freilicher once put it, was to their detriment in terms of what defines traditional art world success. Yet they were always exhibited, respected by their peers, and appreciated by a group of collectors less concerned with fashion than with what makes a good painting."
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.