On the occasion of the exhibitions A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance at Tate Modern (through April 1) and Explosion! The Legacy of Jackson Pollock at the Fundació Joan Miró (through Feb 24), Stephen Moonie considers the history of "painting and performance in relation to one another." He asserts that "it is evident that painting can no longer be taken for granted: instead it operates within an expanded field across and between media."
He concludes: "What is clear... is that performance and painting are closely intertwined, and that the relationship between the two works both ways: painting is not only a pathway into performance, but that many aspects of performance equally lead back into painting..."
Hunter Braithwaite writes about Zhu Jinshi's monumental triptch 权力与江山 (Power and Country) on view in the exhibition Alone Together at the Rubell Family Collection, Miami through August 2, 2013.
Braithwaite begins: "You smell the paintings in the back of your throat and try to take shallow breaths. The three 16-foot-tall oils strive upwards to the ideal of unsullied negative space. On average, the paintings weigh half a ton. The canvas at the top of the frames is stretched gale-taught. At the bottom, the weight of the paint has distended the surface to a slack edema. And while the triptych has the undeniable outline of a 山 (shan), the simplified character for mountain, the artist insists that it be displayed 3-2-1, with the peak still centered and the slopes switched. This choice, coupled with a palate of broad swathes of green littered with more muted industrial hues, evokes the cities surrounding the Yangtze that were abandoned and submerged during the earth-moving Three Gorges Dam project."
Coombs writes that performance art "can be an exhausting medium with little room for the sort of contemplation possible in front of a painting. The form itself is ephemeral and disappears as soon as the performance is over and often the only evidence that such a thing ever happened is through a photograph or a film... This is ironic given that performance art is a continuation, and some might say completion, of the modernist drive towards actuality. It articulates its form through a real body, a real presence, and gives its subjects, which are often imbued with political urgency, a condition of actual being. The disadvantage with it is that, as with events in real life, it is over so very quickly, and often we encounter it most readily through the mediated form of photography or film, a translation of actuality into a fiction. Painting, in comparison, seems embarrassingly immediate."
His excoriating critique concludes: "Painting and sculpture exist for a reason, folks: to inspire contemplation of the fixed and unchangeable across the fluxing ages, to comfort us and give us the illusion of depth and meaning in life."
There is something fascinating about "live" painting. Painting, is nearly always a private act by a single artist alone in his or her studio. Austrian painter Hermann Nitsch brought the act of painting into the performance art arena in the 1960s with his Orgien Mysterien Theatre performances. This week he painted live at Mike Weiss Gallery.. (Feb 15 & 16). Lynn Maliszewski's report on the happening includes great photos of Nitsch and his assistants painting, clad in white robes.
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.