Yau writes: "By revising a variety of well-known myths, and focusing on a moment other than the ones we are familiar with, Staver seems intent on positing a fresh angle, another possibility regarding our understanding of intimate relationships. In this regard, she is a utopian who doesn’t take herself too seriously, doesn’t devolve into the ponderous or didactic. She prefers the comic and a light touch. There is an innocence to these dramas that is Chaplinesque. Like Chaplin, she seems to be on a rescue mission fraught with perils. She wants Leda and her other creatures to escape unscathed, even as a red fox stretches across the canvas carrying a dead bird in its mouth or lampreys rise out of Pandora’s box. Beneath the humor and eccentricity that animates Staver’s work, there is a current of dignity and somberness that imbues it with a depth of feeling."
Linda Francis interviews Thomas Micchelli about the work in his show Bacchantes and Bivalves at John Davis Gallery, Hudson, New York, on view through March 1, 2015.
Asked to describe his working process, Micchelli comments that it is: "Rather chaotic, less so in the drawings than in the paintings, which are often free-for-alls in terms of intention and technique: picking up and disposing of approaches as they prove useful one moment and useless the next; trusting that some kind of unity will emerge within a body of work without striving for it in terms of form or style. I find myself cleaving away my knowledge of art history to come up with a direct relationship to the paint, something that relates to the unmediated experience of the material on the surface — it’s an impossible task, but it’s my goal with each painting."
Andrew Alexander reviews the exhibition Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey at the Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, Atlanta, on view through March 9, 2014.
Alexander writes: "Bearden’s depiction of the perils that befall Odysseus... can also be understood as parallels to the heroic story of African American survival — a collective and ongoing epic. But Bearden’s project here is not just a transposition of a 'classical' story into an African American context or idiom. The work reflects Bearden’s broader understanding of art-making. Bearden believed deeply in the universality of art and myth as expressions of shared human impulses, dreams and archetypes. As he remarked in 1970, 'I give every effort to give my works a universal character, and I feel that the meanings can be extended and reinforced by means of myth and ritual.' "
Yau writes that in Staver's painting Daphne (2013), the figure's "feeling of being hemmed in by the painting’s physical parameters is contradicted by Daphne’s new identity as a laurel tree, a living and growing thing. She wants to break through the barriers and she eventually will. At the same time, her palpable physical presence underscores the empty night sky’s limitlessness beyond her. It seems to me that in 'Daphne,' Staver not only acknowledges that we are bounded beings that exist in an infinite universe, but accepts this unknowable state as both a challenge and an inspiration. In this regard, Staver’s 'Daphne' can be read as an examination of painting’s contested status, as surface and space."
Cahill writes: "Indeed, the exhibition reminds us that wandering, whether between continents or representational modes, has been a defining aspect of Baer’s life. Over a career spanning seven decades, Baer has come a long way from her beginnings as a pioneer of Minimalism in the US in the 1960s... In recent decades, Baer has consistently straddled personal and cosmic registers. In a diaristic catalogue entry, she refers to the ‘epic, colonial land-hopping’ in the early days of human society, which is ‘still marked by continental intrusions in the form of earth mounds, megaliths, and heavenly measurements systems.’ Such ancient systems, with their covert and ranging allusions, have an arcaneness that her latest works frequently share. In their promiscuous allusions, her compositions can appear as recondite as antique emblems or cryptic crossword clues. In Heraldry (Posts and Spreads) (2013), a coat of arms nestles within a larger tableau of skulls and rune stones. It furnishes an apt metaphor for the series in its entirety – compressed and encoded, dually figurative and symbolic."
David Rhodes reviews the exhibition Jo Baer at Museum Ludwig, Cologne, on view through August 25, 2013.
Rhodes writes: "This summer’s exhibition at the Museum Ludwig was originally conceived as a presentation of Baer’s minimalist works and was later expanded to cover the artist’s entire output, with an emphasis on early drawings. As a result, links and ruptures, continuities and turns in her creative path can now be traced and appreciated fully, as can the beauty and clarity of each individual work. Baer’s endeavor has always been concerned with painting––and not with fashions and movements––which has led to some historical misunderstanding of her work, righted here."
Julia Schwartz interviews painter Charles Garabedian on the occasion of the exhibition Charles Garabedian: Re-generation at L.A. Louver Gallery, Venice, CA, on view through May 11, 2013.
Garabedian discusses his history as an artist, the challenges inherent in painting, and the subject matter of his new work: "I think with all artists an idea sort of manifests itself within a period time. No matter what the paintings look like, there is something that identifies them as part of one thing. In this case I’ve looked at the work and see that it has a lot to do with the figure, which the work has for years and years. In these particular paintings, the motivating kind of force was the idea of Salomé, which led to a certain kind of figure, primarily a female figure. The female figures have always had a quality of their own in terms of personality, and I think it continues on in these paintings here."
Sharon Butler posts a defense of the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, written by painter Thomas Germano.
Germano questions the prevailing tendency to dismiss Pre-Raphaelite painting: "While some will dismiss Pre-Raphaelite art as illustrative because they were the first artists to employ the new technology of photography in their art, the use of photography today is a perfectly accepted method of image making and artists no longer hide this fact nor apologize for doing so. The Pre-Raphaelites were simply too popular and widely circulated in their day and critics have always frowned upon the universal acceptance of the PRB art movement questioning, 'how can anything this popular be good art when so many commoners admire it?'... While I've never been the first to champion the PRB, this exhibition demonstrates their brilliance and proves exactly why "now" is the time to re-examine their admirable accomplishments. "
Bascove writes: "The figures in these paintings are unique to the land of Native Americans, transmitting the force of its endurance. There is a recitation of the struggles of indigenes peoples and the balm of humor, community, and belief that speak of its survival... Quick-To See-Smith’s vocabulary is also punctuated with another tribe, that of the Artist. There are a cacophony of references to, among others, Picasso, Louise Bourgeoisie, Robert Rauschenberg, Frida Kahlo, Goya, Mexican muralists, and Sunday matinee cartoons. These are seamlessly integrated into narratives that tell the stories of the sacred symbols of indigenes societies and the ravages of war."
Jennifer Samet talks with painter Kyle Staver about her work, Facebook debates, and late Renoir.
Staver remarks: "When I first started painting, with personal subject matter, I wanted to tell you what it was like to be alive, and to be Kyle Staver. I thought, I will paint about the most important events of my life, and hopefully, in doing that, will make a connection to you and it will be universal. Well, I did that for a long time. If you look at Titian, Rembrandt, Tintoretto, or Picasso, you see that at a certain point in their careers, they gave up personal incidents as subject matter, and turned to the mythological, because those themes are typical. We all share Adam and Eve — some sort of ideas about creation. So, rather than go from the particular and try to make it universal, I now am taking the universal and telling you about my stake in it."
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.