Patrick Neal reports on the recent panel discussion Painting Matters Now: A Conversation moderated by Nancy Grimes, held at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. Panelists included Greg Drasler, Laurie Fendrich, John Dubrow, Mario Naves, and Peter Plagens.
Neal writes that Grimes "explained this panel had come out of 'conversations I had with colleagues about the state of painting,' in which they asked each other 'Why are young artists choosing to paint, despite attempts to drive a stake through painting? Why does one medium attract so much malice, particularly in the academy?' The focus of this panel was thus on 'What matters with painting now and why?'
Mario Naves posts his catalogue essay for the exhibition Wit, curated by Joanne Freeman, at The Painting Center, New York through February 23, 2013. The exhibition features works by Marina Adams, Polly Apfelbaum, Joanne Freeman, Joe Fyfe, Barbara Gallucci, Phillis Ideal, Jonathan Lasker, Sarah Lutz, Doreen McCarthy, Mario Naves, Thomas Nozkowski, Paul Pagk, Ruth Root, Fran Shalom, and Stephen Westfall.
Naves writes: "Eschewing the purity that was once abstraction’s sine qua non, the artists featured in Wit opt for an almost promiscuous inclusivity. No inspiration is suspect. High-flown ambitions–sure, we got ‘em; historical cognizance, too. But these artists are also characterized by a willingness to embrace a veritable laundry list of references: nature, narrative, comics, design, technology, science, representation and, not least, humor. Not that humor has been entirely absent from the history of abstract art: Malevich pranked Mona Lisa five years before Duchamp and Mondrian paid winning homage, in oil and canvas, to his beloved boogie-woogie music. Still, abstraction nowadays is more and more a repository of quirks, tics and pictorial double entendres, having as much in common with Buster Keaton, say, as Neo-Plasticism."
Goodrich writes: "Naves’ sixth show at Elizabeth Harris reveals something new: a change in medium, and a more efficient attack that privileges composition over texture. Although still abstract, the works on view are all paintings with highly orchestrated geometric shapes. Close inspection reveals overpainting of areas of many canvases, but the smooth surfaces minimize the show of struggle. The physically layered depths of his collages are gone, replaced by another kind of depth, one purely pictorial in nature. This movement from suggestive textures towards definitive form brings some notable rewards."
Sharon Butler blogs about exhibitions by Mario Naves and Brett Baker at Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, on view through February 2, 2013.
Butler writes that Naves' "buoyant compositional strategies recall those of his earlier collages, but the smoothly painted, unified surfaces and saturated color of his new work evoke the Indian and Persian miniatures and the 16th-century Netherlandish paintings that [he] considers touchstones." She continues noting that "Baker's paintings are darker and more obsessive than Naves, and they suggest that he is entertaining a philosophical question, trying to convince himself that, despite all practical evidence to the contrary, meaning resides in the process. And so he continues--we all do."
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.