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."
I’ve been writing these September round-ups for a few years now, and I’ve almost always prefaced them with some note of astonishment at the sheer amount of abstract painting I was seeing in the galleries. I usually followed that with a reminder of just how little of it there was in the 90s and most of the naughties. But I’m making a few little changes starting now.
Painting has been back in the limelight long enough that those reminiscences are starting to become distant memories, war stories of a kind that make my painter friends under 40 glaze over – what the hell do they care about the days when everyone thought Matthew Barney was God and the Biennial was a series of video booths that resembled a peep show? Like my young friends who didn’t live through that, I’m just going to look back on it with a shrug, if at all.
The other small change is that I want to discuss some painting that isn’t strictly abstract. I’ve been seeing more loopy figures and semi-abstractions that interest me, and it just makes sense to broaden the discussion – it’s all painting after all.
So without further ado, here are some of the painting exhibitions that stood out from the crush of openings in NYC in September:
Einspruch writes: "Staver has long felt compelled to retell her family’s stories, iconically in their way, but not so much as to defeat all the specifics... In her more recent paintings, mythology supplies enough storyline to give her figures, soaked in a vat of Cubism just long enough to become delightfully rubbery, something to do." He concludes: "A simultaneous and revelatory show of Bob Thompson (whose influence Staver acknowledges) and the madcap Louis Eilshemius at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery prompts me to wonder if there’s a mythological-modernist tradition that we ought to consider more thoroughly, with Staver as its current chief practitioner."
Larry Groff and Tina Engels interview painter Lani Irwin.
Asked about her working method Irwin comments "There is no set method. Rarely do I make preliminary drawings, never do I plan out a painting in any formal way. I spend a lot of time staring at the blank canvas. In the end I must just start with something and believe that the next something will reveal itself in the painting of that first something. This requires a kind of faith that the painting itself will take over. What I do is more like choreography, placing objects and figures in relationship to one another to create a tension that interests me. There is no prescription for how this might work best. The selection of the particular objects or the gesture and position of the figures creates a dialogue. Objects speak to me and to one another. It is the dance between these elements rather than a formal consideration of balance or square within a rectangle that orchestrates my paintings and it is driven by intuition."
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."
Harnish writes: "Lisa Adams takes us down a familiar path that is strewn with objects both mundane and transmogrified; the commonplace is ruptured by banalities... Adams has clearly reached for new territory in this show, mastering layered levels of meaning, technique and allegory anew... An LA artist for decades, Adams hints at her hometown throughout, travels to Angeles Crest Forest and Skidrow, pop up enigmatically, themes of homelessness and dysfunction merge with native skies, trees and lights. These amalgamations are a mash up of threads of conversations, Instagram visions found on street corners, internet link diving and poetic cinematography."
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.