McNay begins: "From a distance, the paintings in this exhibition look like large-scale Indian miniatures, with their vibrant palette and simplified, flat, illustrative characters. Look more closely, however, and there are floating figures that could be from Marc Chagall, foliage that looks like something from Henri Rousseau, elements of pop art, and then, uniting it all, a devotional style that could be straight out of 14th-century Sienese painting. This stylistic symphony is punctuated by a wry humour and narrates contemporary scenes – often multiple scenes per work – of Indian life: the life of ordinary workers and tradesmen; of the artist and his older, male lovers; and of the degeneration of his body as he fights, and ultimately loses, his battle against prostate cancer."
Yau writes: "Together, [the two shows] form a wonderful anthology of what Eisenman has been up to in this century, with an emphasis on the last ten years. What these two exhibitions demonstrate is that Nicole Eisenman has put it all together. She has merged painting, subject matter and an incredibly wild imagination to an unrivaled degree. She has become a force of nature to be reckoned with. What makes Eisenman’s achievement all the more delicious is that she makes no bones about her love for, as well as belief in, paint and art history, from the classical renderings of the Italian Renaissance to the Fauvist paintings of Henri Matisse and Andre Derain, to the Expressionist and New Realist depictions of the Weimar Republic, to outliers such as James Ensor, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Edvard Munch, Gabriele Münter, Suzanne Valodon, and the little-known, lesbian expatriate portraitist, Romaine Brooks, who often painted women in suits and top hats."
Ashley Stull Meyers interviews painter Katherine Bradford whose exhibition Divers and Dreamers is on view at Adams and Ollman, Portland, Oregon through June 3, 2016.
Bradford comments: "I want to examine large themes that exist in any time or place—themes like isolation, community, play, or wonder. My paintings are full of awe for our place as small beings in an immense scheme of things. Is that a romantic notion? I feel my settings are universal and timeless and exist in the past as well as the future. The deeper, darker palette came first [in making Divers and Dreamers] and suggested outer space at night. Outer space is a joy for any painter of large color fields. You’ve probably already guessed that my favorite colors are dark blues and purples. It’s full of the mystery of a dark, unchartered universe and gives me boundless opportunities for the invention of multiple light sources."
Mir writes: "The layering of East and West, and the sense of connection Irish has with [Edgar Alan] Poe’s Eureka, suggest that geographical boundaries and standardized notions of time are perhaps meaningless. She implies that there are no discrete actions. Poe, when he discusses his definition of gravity, meditates on the complex relation of one atom to another. It’s a meditation that speaks to Irish’s ambitions in her work... The atoms in Irish’s work are the markers of globalization, the Rococo rooms, the anti-war protestors, the presence of Chinese and Japanese influence, that seem to have been drawn together by enigmatic forces. But where Poe is rightly in awe of the universe’s composition, the forces Irish depicts aren’t mysterious. They are driven by humankind’s greed and deserve no reverence."
Schjeldahl writes that "[Eisenman] paints narrative fantasies that look bumptiously jokey at first, but reveal worlds of nuanced thought and feeling. They must be judged in person; in reproduction they lose the masterly touch that is Eisenman’s signature. The MacArthur Foundation cited her for restoring 'to the representation of the human form a cultural significance that had waned during the ascendancy of abstraction in the 20th century.' I’d like it to be true. Eisenman’s resourceful Expressionism hints at the power of narrative painting to re-situate the art world in the world at large."
Stephen Maine reviews Amy Hill: Young and Innocent at Front Room Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, on view through May 22, 2016.
Maine writes that "Hill has developed a convincing, personal voice within this context of rampant quotation. Her current exhibition, “Young and Innocent,” features 16 modern-dress productions, in oil on canvas or wood, of those very stagey and stiff nineteenth-century American folk portraits in which children pose with various defining attributes of childhood, yet seem always to look so much older than their years. Funny and frightening, the show is a disconcerting delight."
Sheryl Oppenheim interviews painter Tess Bilhartz whose exhibition Purple Nights was recently on view at Arts + Leisure, New York.
Bilhartz remarks: Narrative is something that I’ve always been interested in. I read a lot of fiction and movies and dramas, but I never really found a way to make it a part of my work. One of the things that I really fell in love with about that project [collborative film project with Holly Veselka] was that it suddenly freed me up to bring in everything that I had ever been interested in and it throw it at one project. And I think this work [Purple Nights] really comes out of that. That collaborative project helped me to see a way forward as a painter."
Callander comments: "I’m not a certain-minded or directed painter but I am a confident painter. In other words, I never really know what I’m doing but am confident I’ll be able to find my way in the end. This kind of uncertainty allows for richly painted surfaces. I scrape, sand, wipe, scratch my paintings – subtracting paint happens about as often as adding paint. In moments of frustration I also spit on them, step on them or smear food into them so that they don’t shut me out. That sounds weird but there’s a strange control dynamic that painters know about and deal with in different ways. There comes a point when the painting starts talking back and telling you what it needs to be finished. That’s a dangerous time because doors start closing, avenues of discovery and spontaneity disappear. And one can just proceed on the easiest path towards completion – the one they have trod before. I detest that feeling and so fight to be open to a painting flipping to completion in an instant."
Rubenstein observes: "The depiction of power, though its presence is immaterial, has been a source of fascination for painters since, well, there has been painting. Michalangelo, David, Rembrandt, Benglis, Golub, Kruger, and Longo come to mind. Schor plays with the relationship of the figure, immense and monolithic, against the ground, delicate and ephemeral. ... Like Picasso, in his last self-portrait (Self-Portrait Facing Death, 1972), Schor gives us a schematic depiction of time at work. The Mangaaka figures which were the catalyst for this group may have had talismatic properties for their creators, but for the contemporary artist, Schor seems to ask, does art still have that power? Schor’s drawings are meditations on time and aging, and on the power of art to transform and transcend the temporal."
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.