Ridley Howard interviews painter Benjamin Butler whose exhibition Another Tree, Another Forest was recently on view at Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna.
Butler comments: "I used to be very interested in combining dissimilar art historical reference points, into singular paintings. It was definitely important for me to use a simple/modern subject matter, the landscape, as a context for what was essentially a post-modern strategy. The landscape format made what could have been a heavy-handed idea more bearable to me. Mondrian was a part of this historical discussion that was happening in my paintings. The singular tree framework/motif functioned like a time machine for me. I often thought to myself, "Imagine if Mondrian had never stopped painting trees, and was then influenced by the many abstract painting languages which came later (that Mondrian, himself, had actually influenced)". This non-linear, and slightly absurdist idea, was incredibly helpful in pushing my project forward. The often-discussed idea of abstraction and figuration, and the blurring of the two, I've always thought, is a rather natural and unavoidable effect of putting paint on canvas. However, it does, usually, make a painting more compelling to look at, for a longer amount of time."
Stevens writes: "Like Hopper’s paintings, Martin’s interpretations provide neither a critical nor celebratory stance. Rather, they evoke 'an emotional complexity nearly operatic in scope: with the silent, vacant architecture, human drama seems to exist more powerfully in allusion,' as offered by Quintan Ana Wikswo. Unlike Hopper, however, Martin’s application of paint is undetectable. Her technique relies upon the strokes of a micro-sized brush measuring just 1/32 of an inch in width. Over the course of a single painting, Martin can go through as many as twelve brushes. With exception to the blue sky-scapes that dominate most of her canvases, she favors a Size 0 brush because it allows her to push her paint in such a way that makes for a realistic portrayal of her subject matter, which she illuminates by a slightly blurred glow that is as subtle as it striking."
Sharon Butler blogs about the paintings of Joan Nelson on view Adams and Ollman, Portland, Oregon through July 13, 2015.
Butler notes that "[Nelson's] use of color and value (warm deep browns in the foreground, faint blue-green-purples in the background) afford the images a great sense of distance while the little plant or spit of land she mentions in the interview appear at the bottom of each painting to pull the viewer into the picture. Nelson is close to the land--she lives in upstate New York and walks everyday, making mental note of each plant that falls within her view. Her paintings convey that physical presence, in terms of both image and process. Much like old hand-painted postcards, they embody a personal memory and evoke a sense of nostalgia."
Altoon Sultan blogs about an recent exhibition of paintings by Alex Katz at Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York.
Sultan writes: "Alex Katz's landscape paintings are a paradox: as large as they are, they seem intimate; they portray ordinary views, yet are surprising and extraordinary... Katz's simple titles––a time of day, a description of place––tell of noticing something marvelous within an everyday world. It was a stunning experience to see the painting 4 PM, glistening on a back wall, seen through doorways. The painting seemed as alive, and its subject as real, as the bars of light cast onto the polished floor: a hazy sun, leaves back lit, flickering in moving air."
Larry Groff interviews painter Celia Reisman. An exhibition of Reisman's recent paintings was recently on view Paul Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco.
Commenting on the effect of moving to California from Philadelphia, Reisman notes: "I’ve always been attracted to color in the landscape looking for some distinguishing color, like a red bush or a yellow umbrella. Out here it’s been easier to find those experiences with pink houses, purple trees, bougainvillea, a constant array of color that seems to change every few weeks. So in addition to the Dr. Seuss like plants out here, the surrounding color also creates a somewhat surreal and visually exotic experience. It’s a constant bombardment of visual inspiration which I try to capture. San Diego has influenced me to push my palette to brighter greens, reds, oranges etc., colors that are not so abundant back east, finding an excuse to use them. I’ve tried to run with it, exaggerate and use a stronger palette. I’ve also tried to create a color world for each painting so it gives off a sensation or glow of a certain temperature or feeling."
Asked about making both abstract and perceptual paintings Kreimer comments: "Some of the things are really central to both. The negative space is probably the main link in both: if there’s a kind of formal structure that has heavy symbolic meaning, it’s the way that the foreground that we tend to ignore becomes present in the paintings. It’s all about negatives. I would say two-thirds of my work is negative space to one-third positive. The figure-ground, not just reversals, but in both bodies of work, I really like when the figure and ground are sort of switching off. Sometimes I can think of an Alex Katz painting or Bonnard, where the figure really becomes almost like the background. I’m really interested in them … The painting’s always moving back and forth with that... The main difference for me is the abstract paintings I allow myself to paint over and over and change entirely. With observational paintings, I give myself this rule, not always and it’s not super strict, but 99% of the time, I start and finish them in the same day. They’re alla prima, one-shot paintings."
Bradley writes: "Start anywhere, go everywhere—that would seem to be the calling card of mid-twentieth-century painter Charles Burchfield’s body of work, which predominately captures scenes from nature and rural, country life as charged by drama, tension, and a freewheeling style that rockets straight out of humble en plein air painting’s crypt and into the stratosphere of vision."
Alexander observes: "Unlike the majority of her paintings in recent years, the new works 'read' immediately as landscapes, rather than as abstract paintings distilled from fleeting observations. That is not to imply that they have lost any of their potency as poetic objects. The artist's focus is exquisite, her images reduced to the simplicity of a diagram, or to quietly receding color fragments on the plane."
Ellen Gamerman interviews painter Alex Katz whose work is on view at Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York, through June 13, 2015.
Gamerman begins: "One morning. That’s how long it takes Alex Katz to start—and finish—a painting. This high-speed routine has repeated itself many mornings, for many years. Such remarkable productivity would be a feat for any artist, but especially an 87-year-old whose towering pictures demand exacting brushwork across canvases that span entire walls."
Alexis Clements reviews works by Etel Adnan at Galerie Lelong, New York, on view through May 8, 2015.
Clements writes: "On Adnan’s uncluttered canvases the color vibrates and pulses with an ecstatic fluorescence that lends many of the abstract works on display an energy and life that I could not look away from... Beyond Adnan’s use of color, one of the things that struck me most about the show at Lelong is the intense economy of her work. Not only are the works of a small scale (few of the paintings exceed 13 x 16 inches), but the paint is generally applied in only one layer... There are no obvious edits and changes in her work, no excess — instead, there seems to be a patient clarity, a practiced hand and mind."
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.