Lawrence Gipe and John Seed discuss their mutual enthusiasm for and their "oppositional" tastes in contemporary representational painting. Two excerpts:
Seed: "Painting is a very, very old tradition, and the painting that interests me now attempts to consolidate and refine venerable traditions... when I first see a new artist's work I ask myself, 'What are the genetic (art historical) strands that this work is woven from?' At the moment, I am seeing exciting work that taps into Old Master and academic art, Expressionism and Bay Area Figuration. Of course there are many other sources being accessed, as well."
Gipe: "I ... think that having the meaning of the picture be outside of the 'tableau' itself is a template for an engaged relationship to the world--there's always more than meets the eye in any given image, always layers and layers of back story. While I enjoy abstract painting, it seems conceptually mined-out, a bit exhausted. That's why I gravitate towards representational work... To me, depiction provides the widest platform for artistic expression; it potentially connects with all layers of political, formal and visual issues."
Goodrich writes that he was drawn in particular to Rembrandt who "never shied from sentiment and spectacle, but his muscular drawing and color impart a striking gravity to 'Susanna' (1636); no painting here surpasses the weighty drama of its huddled, leaning figure. Hanging alongside, his small, early 'Simeon’s Song of Praise' (1631) could be the ultimate lesson in multi-figure composition: a tilted ring of people—variously stretching, hunching, and leaning—holds beneath the lunging verticals of an immense interior; dramatic contrasts of light fix each person’s rhythmic disposition. (To appreciate how remarkable this work is, compare it to a work by his student, Nicolaes Maes, across the gallery. Maes’ darks are merely dark, not colorful, and his unweighted colors fail to build in sequences that would make any element necessary or unique.)"
Mira Gerard interviews painter Anne Harris about her work and career.
Harris remarks: "I’m really interested in the sense that substances can shift their weight–that flesh can be air, that air can be liquid, that density shifts...There’s an assumption that I must intend to paint a conventional description of 3-D form and weight, but really I’m trying to do something that can’t be nailed down. I tend to think metaphorically when I paint–I’m at my best when I do. So, I might imagine that the figure is being poured into her container, that the ground surrounding her is some denser stuff, holding her in place (like a mold), or that the painting itself is a slice of air and everything in it is just slightly shifting, like condensation, or everything is skin, pushing against the membrane of the picture plane... I am drawn to work that slowly unfolds, that holds me, mesmerizes me. My hope is that the elements in my painting can function this way. Color is a part of that. I like nameless colors, colors that only get their identity in relationship to other colors, they shift, or flex depending on their context. My hope is that the longer you look, the more they change, that the painting itself keeps shifting."
Christopher Joy and Zachary Keeting visit the studio of painter Sam Messer.
Messer draws while discussing his work including his portrait paintings. He notes that "they're kind of traditional, classical paintings - symbolic portraiture... I'm not interested in the likeness, I'm interested in the feeling - and that feeling, the way I work, comes across in the making, something happens and that's what I stay with... I'm not trying to get a specific image or specific likeness. I'm trying to find some relationship between that and the form, so therefore it can stay open."
Rachel Spence reviews the exhibition Antonello da Messina at Mart Roverto, on view through January 12, 2014. The post is accompanied by an excellent slideshow.
Spence writes that "Messina's psychological acuity renders his subjects as complex as any 20th-century study." She adds that the show "distils the artist to a nucleus that spans his career. Though monumental altarpieces are present, its core is the clutch of portraits, both secular and sacred, that highlight his gift for capturing his subjects’ human essence. Meanwhile, a constellation of paintings by his forerunners and peers shines a welcome light on the painterly ferment in southern Italy, too often overlooked in favour of Tuscany and Venice."
Rhodes writes that "because the paintings are both very focused and fragmentary, they can be seen as both complete in themselves – time stilled – and as a sequence of moments, hours or years apart. That portraits appear at intervals (or in one place together as a group) only enhances the impression of a flow of events unfolding as much as images of things remembered from the past. What amounts to fragments of life are presented at varying degrees of proximity and distance: figures and heads, both partial and complete; flowers, grouped or isolated; trees reflected, next to each other, or singular, but always seen in sections and not whole, however complete they are as an image."
Colm Tóibín interviews painter Miquel Barceló his recent work, on view at Acquavella Galleries, New York, through November 22, 2013.
Talking about his technique of painting with bleach, Barceló comments: "you don’t see what happens until the day after. You believe it happens but you don’t know... With bleach, it’s always the eyes and hands work something like a camera. It is very close to photography, but before photography and painting separate. Photography is a chemical process and my art is like photography but my hand makes the chemistry. There is a point very early, where photography is like a technique of paint. It’s okay to be in between, because something interesting happens when photography goes one way and paint another."
A’Dora Phillips and Brian Schumacher interview painter Lennart Anderson on the occasion of the exhibition Lennart Anderson: Paintings & Drawings at Leigh Morse Fine Arts, New York, on view through November 23, 2013.
Speaking about perceptual painting Anderson comments: "I’m not dependent on what I’m carrying around in my head. If you have something to look at, and if you’re diligent, and if you love it, you can make good art by working from perception. Otherwise, you think you have to have an idea. And then you paint your idea." He continues: "I just followed whatever I was interested in, painters and paintings that inspired me. I don’t claim to be one of those geniuses. You’re not supposed to be influenced. You’re supposed to be yourself, but I’ve always been influenced. Painters steal. Artists steal. I remember when I went to Cranbrook, I was so intimidated by the jargon about creativity. Creativity – I never knew what that was. I still don’t know. There it is."
Micchelli writes that "the drawing is imperfect, which is essential to its probing, critical, transporting beauty. Leonardo’s inquisitive hand never settles on a single way of seeing or doing: the cheek on the right is molded with an exquisite caress, with the artist’s distinctive left-to-right hatch marks cascading like sheets of water, while the shadow across the woman’s back feels bluntly swiped in, as if he saw no reason to spend time on it. The dancelike curls delineating the locks of hair trailing down her spine are rendered minimally, almost abstractly, even as the minute strokes of white gracing her nose, cheeks and eyelid return the drawing to a moist, porous realism."
Jed Perl reviews the exhibition See It Loud: Seven Post-War American Painters at the National Academy Museum, New York, on view through January 26, 2014. The show features work by Leland Bell, Paul Georges, Peter Heinemann, Albert Kresch, Stanley Lewis, Paul Resika and Neil Welliver.
Perl writes that the show fails to offer "the expansive alternative history so many of us hoped for." He continues: "Even those who admire much of the painting in 'See It Loud' should be gobsmacked by a show that overlooks Nell Blaine, Lois Dodd, Jane Freilicher, Grace Hartigan, Mercedes Matter, and Louisa Matthiasdottir. With 'See It Loud,' the National Academy has performed the rather extraordinary feat of turning a postwar movement in which women were every bit as prominent as men into a boys' club with not a single girl in sight. This is not only politically incorrect; it’s historically incorrect. Women were leaders in postwar painterly realism—certainly Blaine, Freilicher, Hartigan, and Matthiasdottir were much more prominent than some of the men in this show—so how can the story be told without them?"
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.