Barosh observes: "In Soul Bolt, Reeves’s immaterial figures present different degrees of psychological anguish and absurdity. The diminutive beings, cobbled together accumulations of painted debris, play out silent scenes of operatic grandeur or teeter on the edge, in parody of the Sublime. A new level of mystery is introduced when Reeves begins to pair the figures with photographed landscapes, placing the iconography of the dream world onto a representation of the real, replicating the inside-out feeling of terminal illness... Jennifer Wynne Reeves lived every moment of her life for art, sustained to the very end by creativity in its purest form, emotional honesty, and a striving for spiritual transcendence. Her work lives on reflecting her graceful humility and passionate spirit..."
Louisa Buck interviews painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, whose exhibition Verses After Dusk is on view at Serpentine Gallery, London through September 13, 2015.
Yiadom-Boakye comments: "For a long time now, I haven’t thought of what I do as portraits—I see them more as figurative paintings. I realised quite early on that I was not so interested in painting people whom I knew or doing the classic portrait from life, although I did it a lot when I was younger, because to be able to improvise, it’s important to train yourself how to look, and to be aware of how a body is composed or how a face sits. But once I tried to paint this guy who was really an incredible character and I was so disappointed with the outcome: I didn’t capture anything of him. Then I realised that I wasn’t interested so much in trying to capture someone who was actually there as I was in just the painting itself, and in letting that lead and decide what a person’s facial expression does, wh ere a hand sits or what a gesture is. So I was much more drawn to that as a way of working, to work from a composite of drawings, scrapbooks, found images, photographs—anything—and to bring it all together so it would be exactly what I wanted it to be: to play God."
Nicole Eisenman and David Humphrey discuss their approaches to narrative and figurative painting.
Eisenman: "My thing is that I’m really into narrative. It’s not about the figure—it’s the storytelling that I’m stuck on. The meat and bones in my practice is somewhere between texture and storytelling."
Humphrey: "Something comes alive right when you’re trying to solve a problem in the picture. It might be: What kind of shoes are on this person? What kind of hat is that? Is that a swivel chair, is there a pattern on it? And in the aggregate of all that problem-solving you end up with a narrative that’s both bigger than, and intersecting with, the manifest narrative of people riding on a train or eating a meal or whatever."
Eisenman: "Somehow what’s happening in the picture gets eclipsed by the meaning of the accumulation of those objects and moments smooshed together. You can look at how those objects and things intersect with texture and structure to deepen the story."
Megan Abrahams reviews Julie Heffernan's recent exhibition Pre-Occupations at Mark Moore Gallery, Culver City.
Abrahams begins: "Dramatic, intense, surreal and rich with metaphor, Julie Heffernan’s recent series of large figurative tableaux transport us to an apparently post-apocalyptic place and time conceived from the artist’s imagination. In her elegantly realized, often disturbing vision, the earth’s environment appears to have deteriorated, propelling humanity back to a more rustic, primitive and desperate way of life. Layered with beauty, conflict and tension, there is much at stake in the world as portrayed by Heffernan. Her overriding concern is the man-made destruction wrought by climate change, overpopulation and ecological imbalance, which she articulates in the tradition of historical narrative painting interwoven with her own surreal vernacular and elements of the Baroque."
Jennifer Samet interviews painter Henry Taylor about his life and work.
In her introduction Samet notest that Taylor's "paintings bear that emotional porosity. His painting world is his personal world, and our shared cultural world. He makes solo and group portraits of his brothers, his lovers and friends, and people truly living on the edge, along with black athletes, heroes, legends fallen from grace, and iconic victims of societal racism and hate. Broad, color-saturated forms with painterly moments are orchestrated into clear arrangements. Bits of text are often incorporated, as well as singular symbolic attributes (the objects the sitters hold, the clothes they wear) that tell the story of who they are — glimpses of their internal lives, their relationship to the world and each other."
Faith McClure interviews painter Alex Katz on the occasion of the exhibition Alex Katz, This Is Now at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, on view through September 6, 2015.
Katz comments: "Style makes everything cohesive. The old guys said style becomes content and content becomes form. That’s the abstract expressionism bible. In my paintings, style is not form. There’s this interview with Francesco Clemente where we argue. He thinks it’s form, but I think style is the real content... Willpower and character, and trusting yourself and the parts of yourself that don’t make sense. Painting is sort of like a community activity. You represent a lot of people when you paint. It’s not a genius thing. It’s a collective thing. And the other part of it is that you have an idea of what art should be, and you hang onto that. It changes its faces. Dealing with something like reality, you’re dealing with a variable. So every solution you make is obsolete, and you have to make another solution."
Feinsteing writes: "Like the Italian masters who depicted scenes from the Bible, Lawrence created extended narrative cycles. He chose to chronicle the stories of normal citizens like himself—largely invisible in the art of the time—and situate them in the history of America. Daily lives, street scenes, and people at play, at worship, and at work feature prominently. So do historical narratives of slaves ... and the mass migration of black people from Southern farms to factories in the North and Midwest. Lawrence created a vernacular visual history, much of which is still missing from history textbooks today."
Mark Stone blogs about two painting exhibitions on view in Venice Sean Scully: Land Sea curated by Danilo Eccher at Palazzo Falier (through November 22) and Peter Doig at Palazzetto Tito.
Stone writes: "Scully’s newer works have gotten much looser, the paint handling is more offhand, drippier, the compositions have opened up and become less structured. The predominant color in these works is an ultramarine blue that occasionally gets lightened, muddied or blurred with acidy yellows or workman reds, dropping the primaries into secondaries and/or tertiaries. In these landscape-y blue works there is a broader swing from dark to light, the stripes open up while the paintings remain more monochromatic. ... Doig’s color is hearty in blocks and stretches, the figuration is respectfully abstracted following Diebenkorn’s and Hockney’s examples, and there’s a bit of Surreal spectacle and art historical play in them. This is Postmodernism done well, and when it works as it does here, it can be pleasing."
John Mitchell blogs about the work of Malcom Morley, on view at Sperone Westwater, New York through June 6, 2015.
Mitchell writes: "There’s a poetic multiplicity of meaning to every aspect of Malcolm’s work. The spirit of playfulness in his painting is joyful and at 83, he’s charged with youthful vigor for his work – as his robust output over the past decade clearly demonstrates."
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.