Robb remarks: "Drawing is essential to me; I use it as a means of investigation. I use it to probe. I draw when I have a structural/formal painting problem and I draw from observation to collect specific information for a painting, so I draw a lot. I don’t draw for aesthetic reasons, but I’ll discard a drawing that doesn’t work aesthetically because I can’t bear to look at it."
Mansdorf comments: "I often want a tension between formal elements such as form, light, color and other elements that are more subjective and psychological. I guess the Freudian part is the psychological aspect of the painting. The Kantian part is the formal part... When you’re doing figure painting, one way is to paint the model as a kind of objectified form where the model sits and poses for you and you’re treating them a bit like a still life object. Once you move away from that and become concerned with creating activity in the painting, a social world, a contextual space, a psychological tension develops in the painting. It is inevitable in some ways and, as the painter, you have to manage the dynamic that is coming into being. You are starting to create artifice. Some people call this narrative. Many observational painters are uncomfortable making that leap–they feel it is dishonest somehow. I am not interested in a really overt narrative. I find it too confining. But I am interested in creating metaphors and relationships between things that are not simply formal."
Yau writes: "These are Bradford’s “Deluge” paintings — that’s what I mean by breakthrough. She has done something unforeseen — the envisioning of an all-consuming catastrophe of biblical proportions. She is not only updating Guston’s own take on a subject that stretches as far back as Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings of cataclysmic storms, done in the last decade of his life, but she is also gaining parity with him, endowing these new works with a particular gravitas that wasn’t always apparent in the earlier work. Bradford has transformed the whimsical into the catastrophic, its polar opposite, without losing her offhand humor."
Canier comments: "I have always gone back and forth between painting from life and painting from my imagination. I’ve made figure compositions that were very ambitious and difficult, trying to invent everything from scratch and then I have also always made these little collages. All of these different ways of working fed on each other in ways that I didn’t even understand at the time... I have a lot of ideas about people, things I want to say about people, the places where they live and the way they relate to each other in those places. I am also moved by the way in which people relate to the past and their memories. Memories inhabit places as well and imbue them with meaning, both personal and collective. I don’t feel like I can do justice to this idea without the working representationally... The formal qualities of images communicate ideas, which is where painting has its real power. When a literal idea is imbedded in the formal visual language of a painting, that’s what really interests me. If the literal stuff is all you’re thinking about and the formal is left by the wayside, then it becomes sentimental or cheap."
Dufresne remarks: "I am trying to use some of those strategies that I find in video and music. How can I make painting that is not just navel-gazing, all about paint? I would not stay interested if I didn’t have other things going through my head. Sustained engagement in the work is difficult for many people. How can I stay engaged in the painting, in the process, and in the problems that come out of the process? I need to know that something fun is going to happen in the process of making it. If I just tell you a joke, I’m in and out so fast. I am constantly thinking about movies, politics, sex, love, and beauty – the things we all think about. I want to use those strategies in painting. But a painting must be an experience you could not have anywhere else. Painting is the hardest thing, because you can’t control it; you have to follow it. But we keep trying."
Kalm notes: "... though [Eilshemius and Thompson are] separated by more than just time, and inclination, this show hangs together beautifully, and presents those kinds of contrasts that allows one to appreciate each artist's distinctions."
John Goodrich reviews Let’s Get Figurative at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, New York, on view through November 15, 2015.
Goodrich notes: "Absorbing such artworks, one realizes that the coherence of the installation can be partly credited to the intense conversation between them — to their shared enthusiasm for quirky subjects, evocative materials and techniques, and askance views on cultural norms. Less uniformly evident is an appreciation of the kind of pictorial tensions one might find in a Matisse, Mondrian, or Rothko: the way a particular weight of blue, pressed to a corner, leverages an opposing red. It’s an experience of color energies that lies nascent on an artist’s palette and reaches its full, poignant expression in the great works in museums, but can’t be fully discerned on a computer monitor or tablet."
Micchelli writes: "Dispensing entirely with modernist emotional distancing, Gillespie’s most effective works go well beyond a mere horror of the flesh; in his own private netherworld, any act of intimacy — incarnated in his sensual, exacting brushstrokes — is a step into the abyss... Perhaps the most disturbing paintings in the show are the ones that relinquish multifarious imagery and instead present the artist in unadorned self-portraits...That these two grinning portraits ... were completed the year he took his own life lends them an almost unbearably melancholy edge. The disjunction between their apparently willful good cheer and the descent that followed would seem to embody Gillespie’s professed themes of 'insanity, chaos, weirdness,' compounded by compositions that feel deliberately ungainly, unvarnished and disconcertingly real."
Blog post revisiting Steven Litt's 2007 profile of painter Dana Schutz republished on the occasion of Schutz's exhibition Fight in an Elevator at Petzel Gallery, New York.
The exhibition press release notes that "Schutz’s figures are placed within compressed interiors where they are forced to struggle against the boundaries of their painted environments and up onto the physical edge of the canvas. Her characters find themselves helpless in the mouth of a lion, exchanging blows in a mirrored elevator, or somnambulating down a narrow staircase. These highly structured spaces, which are both intensely public and utterly private, point to how Schutz tackles the subject of interiority—rather than offering a voyeuristic view, her frontal facing subjects stare directly back at the viewer, seemingly with the desire to extend outside of themselves."
Allie Biswas interviews painter Jordan Casteel on the occasion of the exhibition Brothers at Sargent's Daughters, New York, on view through November 15, 2015.
Casteel comments: "The current show features groups of figures as opposed to a singular figure. Yes, this development is directly related to how one male feels in relation to the others in his group, but individual identify is not lost in that. As a painter, the challenge lies in insisting on individual identity in the midst of others. My intent has been to draw into question the relationship between individuals as well as highlight each model’s uniqueness. The viewer’s reflections are going to be inherently present when dealing with the figure. However, for me, it is about challenging assumptions and moving into connection/reflection."
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.