Phong Bui interviews painter Alfred Leslie on the occasion of the exhibition Alfred Leslie: 10 Men at Janet Borden Gallery, New York, on view through November 25, 2015.
Leslie comments: "I always felt people are open if you can catch them off guard. You can get them to see something that they may not have been able to see before. The idea was by making the paintings big, you eliminated all of the nuances of prettiness, which could be seen as distractions. If you can get their attention for even one second, perhaps even keep them from moving, just standing there looking, no matter where they’re from, the minute they ask, 'what’s going on?' You’ve got them! If you can get them to think about what it is they’re seeing, what it is they’re thinking about, it can perhaps lead to other thoughts about themselves or the world inside and the world outside. All of which are a part of the human condition for sure."
Jillian Steinhauer previews Women of Abstract Expressionism which will be on view at the Denver Art Museum from June 12, 2016 – September 25, 2016, and talks to the exhibition’s organizer, Gwen Chanzit about the show.
Chaznit comments: "Most [of the exhibited artists] were not fully acknowledged in their time. Though many showed in exhibitions along with men, this was a time when societal opportunities for women were limited. It’s not so surprising that Abstract Expressionism, like other movements, has largely been defined by male painters; yet in this case, their male-ness, their heroic machismo spirit, has become a defining characteristic of the expansive gestural paintings of Abstract Expressionism. But process and experimentation with materials weren’t exclusive to men; they are also evident in paintings by women. Many female painters also responded to personal triggers in their own firsthand experience; some abstractions might even be thought of as interior, emotional gesture. This exhibition endeavors to expand what we know of the movement to include canvases by women of Abstract Expressionism that express compelling points of view by individuals who were individual in every sense."
McNay writes: "Mural (1943) expounds a tension between emotional outburst and Pollock’s command of style, form and handling – something he maintained, even in his apparently automatic and uncontrolled pouring works to come. There is an emotive mix of the public and the private and the larger brushstrokes seem to breathe, expel air and revitalise. Colours of life (yellow, red, green) intermingle with that of death (black) and there are many different forms of mark-making, including some flicking and speckling – the first forerunners of his (in)famous dripping and pouring. The viewer is carried in a whirlwind of motion across the canvas, picked up, propelled, dropped down, swallowed into the deep vortices, spun around, and picked up again. Across the top, heads appear, thrown back, mouths agape, screaming – echoing the horrors of Guernica. But this is not a horrific work. It is not unsettling, despite the storm of movement and outpouring of feeling. It is vigorous, compelling and hopeful."
Micchelli writes: "One of the many striking works in the exhibition ... is a large abstraction from 1977 called “Knight Series #8 (Q3-77 #2).” Resembling a Synthetic Cubist floor plan, it is in fact an experiment in gaming that looks back to the anti-art of Marcel Duchamp and forward to the rules-based systems of 21st-century conceptual painting. That’s the essence of the puzzle that is Jack Tworkov, a painter’s painter who never seemed quite in step with his time, skipping past prevailing styles while remaining devoted to the bedrock values of stroke, line, shape and color.."
David Ebony interviews Michelle White and Bradford A. Epley, co-curators of the recent exhibition Barnett Newman: The Late Work at The Menil Collection, Houston.
White comments: "In the late works, compared with the better known earlier paintings—of the 1940s and ‘50s—changes in the way he treated the painted surface are readily apparent. A lot of earlier works are more painterly. He applied many layers, and established a sense of atmosphere. There’s a rich complexity in the layering you can see in paintings like Ulysses (1952), with its layers of blue pigments. A big part of what happened from 1965 on is that he began to use acrylics instead of oil paint. The color in the late paintings is flatter, more solid and saturated. And the overall design is more boldy graphic."
Bunker writes: "... the ‘Black Pourings’ that are the throbbing dark heart of this exhibition. Crude materiality and brooding imagery seems to be answering something very different but equally ‘… deep seated in contemporary sensibility.’ Pollock’s ‘gothic- ness’ that had always disturbed Greenberg re-emerges to assert its power. But these black works have gained some kind of momentum, some new kind of febrile and focused intensity. They seem to be an attempt at extreme synthesis rather than meticulous refinement; a synthesis of personal obsessive renderings of the fragmented body, that had always lay hidden in the ‘all-over’ works, combined with, and intensified by, the technical innovations he had made while working upon the drip-based paintings."
McNay writes: "it might be suggested that his lack of direct contact with the canvas meant there was no intermediary between it and the content of his mind – his canvas could be said to be at one with his mind. Even these seemingly chaotic paintings were the result of careful consideration, however. Pollock would often stand and contemplate his progress, and he spoke of the need to 'get acquainted' with the work and the importance of not 'losing contact' with it. For me, there is an absolute serenity to his contained chaos."
Ashberry observes: "The relation of [Mitchell's] painting and that of other Abstract-Expressionists to nature has never really been clarified. On the one hand there are painters who threaten you if you dare let their abstract landscapes suggest a landscape. On the other hand there are painters like Joan Mitchell who are indifferent to these deductions when they are not actively encouraging them. Is one of these things better or worse than the other, and ought abstract painting to stay abstract? ... What then is the difference between, say, Joan Mitchell’s kind of painting and a very loose kind of landscape painting? ... Is this then figurative painting, and if so what is the meaning of the term Abstract-Expressionism? The answer seems to be that one’s feelings about nature are at different removes from it. There will be elements of the things seen even in the most abstracted impression; otherwise the feeling is likely to disappear and leave an object in its place. At other times feelings remain close to the subject, which is nothing against them; in fact, feelings that leave the subject intact may be freer to develop, in and around the theme and independent of it as well. This seems to be the case in Girolata—for once the feelings were a reflection of the precise look of the creek, or cliff, or whatever; nevertheless it is this reflection rather than the memory it suggests that remains the dominating force of the painting."
Sassoon writes: "Like the best painting from cave art onwards, Still’s work is as alive and raw as if made today. His characteristic lightning shapes are a bit like the flashes that follow on the heels of Superman. They direct the eye, they activate the composition; actually they are the composition. They suggest a rip or wound in the skin of the paint, something damaged or hurt, while at the same time opening a window of light and color in the otherwise emptiness or murky impasto of the canvas. Still must have gone through countless gallons of black. Either pessimistically or optimistically, the rips and flashes seem to reveal an intimacy and vulnerability, creating a touching counterpoint to the bravado and strong ego that the work communicates — if you are open to being touched by 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.