Charles Giuliano reviews Van Gogh and Nature at the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, on view through September 13, 2015.
Giuliano writes: "The curators draw extensively from Van Gogh’s letters and from research into the artist’s deep interest in literature and science to explore the influences and themes that dominate much of his work. From his earliest letters to his last great drawings and paintings, Van Gogh showed an extraordinary fascination with the natural world... This absorbing view of the work allows us to see the ebb and flow of an artist who was inspired, indeed compelled, to paint every day."
Josephine New writes about the paintings of Simon Ling.
New observers: "At the heart of Ling’s practice are two preoccupations. Firstly, his fascination with making ‘something’ (a painting) out of ‘nothing’ (a uniformly overlooked corner of an urban housing estate, say). Secondly, perhaps more significant, is the understanding that the imagination is partnered with the external acts of vision and touch... Ling ... talks about a different ‘texture of decision-making’, that is ‘sharper, healthier and quicker’ when painting directly from life. This ‘live’ element, as he terms it, adds to the contemporaneity of the works. The pace of the marks and the time spent observing each detail are all savoured by the artist as an integral part of his method. You can almost piece together each element of a building, as if hung on (albeit wonky) planes: his doorways, for instance, are characteristically off-kilter, as though they had been painted on an easel rocking on an undulating pavement."
Ying Li’s paintings fuse natural phenomena and the act of painting. In them, the manipulation of paint and the act of seeing are simultaneous, distinct yet inseparable.
In her recent paintings, completed during a residency at Centro Incontri Umani Ascona in Switzerland, Li painted for the first time at high altitude, a plein-air extreme well suited to her strengths as a painter. The high vantage points offered by the mountain village alter the spatial organization of the landscape. Rather than seeing through space, Li engaged with a dynamic top-down space that plunges even as it recedes creating a natural, vertiginous abstraction. At altitude Li was also closer to the light, closer to the weather, closer to the environmental changes that have informed her work for many years.
Horowitz remarks: "I tend to be an intuitive person and painter. I often find that careful measuring takes me away from my natural way of seeing so I tend to avoid doing too much of it... I usually don’t invent things or move things, but I will bend or stretch or shrink things to fit a compositional need, not always consciously... I do paint a lot at street level and have over the years, but I have loved being high up for as long as I can remember... I believe my first 10 years living in Washington Heights at one of the highest points in Manhattan with a view from the ninth floor toward the Cloisters created some kind of archetypal inner landscape. I actually often dream about being high up looking out that ninth-floor window. I think the way things flatten out and become abstracted in the distance is part of what has attracted me to the distant views."
Christopher Joy and Zachary Keeting visit the studio of painter Lisa Sigal.
Sigal discusses her painting practice in which plein-air painting informs her studio works. She comments: "My background is painting but in some ways I really feel like I want to respond to place... I started to assign myself places to go and look at for very intimate things - to go and look at the way that light falls on a section of the river... what a specific set of interacting forces do to any given place." She continues: "It's really a conversation between interior and exterior... for me that's kind of the core - the interior and exterior and how those two things sometimes collapse into one another in various ways."
Simon Ling and Chris Ofili discuss painting on the occasion of the exhibition Painting Now: Five Contemporary Artists at Tate Britain, on view from November 12 - February 9. 2014. The show features works by Tomma Abts, Gillian Carnegie, Simon Ling, Lucy McKenzie, and Catherine Story.
Ling comments: “Painting is really good at getting you close to certain kinds of things. Subtle is radical... You make a mark with paint, it holds that thing, for as long as anybody’s going to look at it. That movement [of looking] is now held in a material. You combine all those energies and you make this thing which is a living record."
Discussing plein-air painting in the film's trailer, George comments: "You can only suggest how it might be - 'it looks something like this' - to the best of my ability. When I come from London to the country, I'm always amazed at the amount of foliage, the number of leaves. In the country, in this bit of country anyway, there's always something in the way. You never get a clear view. Rather beautiful things come waving along. If they aren't in there to start with, they get themselves in there sooner or later."
An new video documents painter Rackstraw Downes painting on site in Presidio, Texas.
Speaking about his attraction to the area Downes comments: "I'm interested in landscape where people have acted upon it. I grew up in a landscape like that. England is very lived upon... The American romance with the untouched landscape is foreign to me. It never exactly hit me, and I like the landscape that has been modified. It's ok, people aren't so bad and they go in there and they do these things and some of these things are rather wonderful. This is one of those places to me."
Sheerin explains: "Recently I had a nice experience of finding a lovely weather/sea-beaten piece of wood which I felt I could do something with. After working on it fairly quickly and loosely I was happy with the outcome as an authentic representation of where it was found. So now and again I take scavenging outings along the coastline, looking for other possible materials to paint on. These found materials lend themselves very well to what I am trying to achieve and are very much part of the finished work... sometimes a found object will point me in a particular direction. I will sometimes have a reference point and take it from there but I do not get overly concerned if the finished image tends to be more representational or a more abstracted interpretation of the landscape around me. Although I am aware that painting the landscape may be not very fashionable, my finished works are very much rooted in my surroundings and are also about putting down paint to achieve an aesthetic which is true and pleasing to my seeing. At all times I am trying to represent my surroundings and their authentic and unforgiving characteristics..."
Martha Hoppin reviews the recent exhibition Seven On Site at Oxbow Gallery, Northampton, MA, featuring paintings by Martha Armstrong, Sasha Chermayeff, Jane Culp, Judy Koon, Ro Lohin, Lynette Lombard, and Megan Williamson.
Hoppin writes that the "unconventional works emphasize expressive form and brushwork over changes in light effects, weather, and time of day, the more traditional concerns of plein air painting. These seven artists may paint some or most or all of a landscape outdoors, but none produces a direct transcription of nature. While grounded in reality, each interprets distinctively."
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.