Emily Spicer reviews Bridget Riley: Learning from Seurat at The Courtauld Gallery, London, on view through January 17, 2016.
Spicer writes: "On leaving art school, Riley was at somewhat of a loss. She had had an academic training in drawing, but felt that she knew nothing about colour. Until, that is, she discovered Seurat, and in particular The Bridge at Courbevoie (1886-87). Copying this single painting provided Riley with 'a true masterclass … the best tutorial I ever had'. Her version of The Bridge at Courbevoie still hangs in her studio, all these years later, which she says, 'tells you all you need to know about my feelings for Georges Seurat'. "
Hands concludes: "Bridget Riley’s abstract art is clearly modernist, but notwithstanding her traditional training as a painter (she still produces cartoons for her paintings), her work successfully combines a strongly characteristic feature of line through disegno (drawing) with form as colore (colour) to attain a synoptic temporality: intimating a psychogeographic relationship with space through physical positioning and perception; and a sense of time and rhythm integrated in and through the intrinsic properties of the images. The association of colour and line, especially the curve, is sensuous at a visual and an intellectual level. If this interpretation is correct, it might suggest that a purely non-objective abstraction is a fanciful notion – because contingency is unavoidable, so long as human beings continue to make art."
Thomas Micchelli reviews Breaking Pattern at Minus Space, New York, on view through April 18, 2015.
Micchelli writes: "Optical or perceptual painting, for all of its rigor and intellection, can be thought of as a vanguard in defense of 'aura,' a Romantic credo affirming the power of the art object. Optical painting may look anything but emotional in its content, but its direct engagement with the viewer underscores a deep-seated longing to connect... The genre has matured considerably over the past half-century, veering from cheap tricks toward labor-intensive analyses of form and color, and a deeper understanding of the act of seeing. that the "show features the work of five artists — Gabriele Evertz, Anoka Faruqee, Gilbert Hsiao, Douglas Melini, and Michael Scott — across two generations (Evertz was born in 1945; Faruqee and Melini were born in 1972) constituting successive waves of perceptual art."
Faruquee writes: "For me, this painting endures unlike more facile examples of Op Art, because, like a work of thoughtful science fiction, it uncannily compresses the past, present and future. Throughout her writing, Riley recalls the impact of specific perceptual memories. In this painting, one sees how she draws upon these lived moments, whether it was observing light across water, watching the bright blue sky fade into its complementary afterimage, studying the divisionism of Seurat’s dots and Moorish tiles, or engaging an all-over structural approach to figure drawing. She hones aspects of these past experiences in order to present a wholly new perceptual event tantamount to them."
Morgan writes: "This highly original hard-edge painter and soft-edge draughtswoman has produced one of the more interesting exhibitions involving color, line, and form in the current enterprise of abstract painting. Her pictorial images, which are a compendium of layers of color involving time, intuition, and pressure from hand to surface, appear to have their own point of view rather than conforming to the current look of abstraction... Her color, light, and form emerge less from “self-critical” inquiry than from a rigorous intuition whereby nature is represented (and transformed) through a vertical topology, despite the fact that her paintings begin uniformly on a horizontal register."
Peter Frank reviews a recent exhibition of works by Gary Lang at ACE Gallery, Beverly Hills.
Frank writes: "The concentric circle, or target, has been one of the predominant motifs in American abstract painting for the last half-century or more, and, as a result, to wring unexpected changes from it has become increasingly difficult. Gary Lang has made the multi-orbital composition his own neither by ignoring nor by worrying about Kenneth Noland, Jasper Johns, Tadasky, or even Don Suggs, but by pursuing the format as a potentially infinite realm of perception—less a motif or even framework for conceptual examination than as a stage for visual, and tactile, stimulation. Lang, who has been painting circles for over three decades, has personalized his approach to that pursuit, employing intuitive, optically sensitive color sequences and allowing the application of paint to evince his hand."
Dama writes: "Following the Modernist tradition, the artist has dedicated her whole career to understanding visual perception, engaging with form and color. Yet, her way of painting links her to Minimalism and to conceptual practice, influences that are still clearly recognizable in a great part of today’s art. This is probably where one has to look to understand the reasons for her success: Riley’s paintings establish a sort of bridge between old inquiries and more recent art; no matter how many years have passed since the inception of Modernism, she seems to suggest its bases are still the fundament of artistic endeavor, and always will be. Her work acts as a reminder of this."
Marks notes that "the perception that Faruqee’s patterns are self-evident—arise only because the conventional idea of moiré-ness, like an insidious stereotype, may distract viewers from the particular conditions that characterize Faruqee’s expression of the pattern, and from the nature of her painted surfaces... all [of the works] produce [a] dynamic of depth, breadth, and layering that reads as both moiré and not-moiré. The canvas is barely able to contain these multiple activities."
Oppermann comments: "I value the 'hand' or physical gesture in my work. I allow the paint to bleed, smudge, peel back at times, which disrupts the illusory or pictorial space, emphasizing the materials and surface instead... the way in which I construct illusions of depth and space, where certain patterns seem to float in front of others, screens of lines that you are looking through, into another internal space. In fact, the painting is flat, and I’m not using any conventional pictorial tools such as a horizon line, perspective, or representational imagery – they are purely abstract in nature. Also the works evoke a sensation of vibration and movement, creating a temporal element – the flickering between the white and black lines also recalls the shutter between frames in a film. But there is no actual movement, because the painting hangs inertly on the wall, and there is no animation or video, the patterns are static – the only changes that occur are in the viewer’s perception."
Tiernan writes: "'Collecting' atmospheric conditions and natural phenomenon that he had witnessed was integral when conceiving a work. Whitaker described this as a highly conceptual process, with the hope of capturing optimism. Fascinated by a real and multiple perspective, the influence of both Pablo Picasso and Peter Lanyon are evident in Whitaker’s output: conceptual cubism – conceiving works with pauses to consider the act of painting, the delineation of the horizontal and vertical line... Each mark carries intentionality, gestures to demarcate and sometimes devour the surface underneath as Gerhard Richter did, dragging colour across the whole canvas."
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.