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?"
Hager writes: "Color is Hockney’s seductive Siren, and she is both an asset and a liability. Taken as individual compositions, the bright saturated colors delight. Hockney Woods is a cheery place full of daringly-deployed 'tube' greens mixed to a wide range of tints and shades. Hockney uses the complementary antidote, magenta, in just the right amount to soothe those highly-agitated greens. This palette does not replicate the lush Yorkshire countryside so much as symbolize it. You won’t probably recognize this as England. With a color subconscious permanently colonized by Los Angeles, the road to Woldgate Woods runs through Santa Monica... Beyond color, what is striking about the work on display is Hockney’s attention to mark making and decorative pattern. The spirit of Rousseau is unavoidably invoked in some of the more densely foliated landscapes."
Beckers writes that "the exhibition is more about what Van der Weyden left behind and those who followed his style of painting after his death... [it] is centred on a set of anonymous masters, active in Brussels and heavily influenced by Van der Weyden. Because of their anonymous nature, these painters have not been held in high esteem in the history of art and have been designated 'minor masters,' unknown and unloved. The display, however, challenges this apparent lack of love. Three painters in particular have been studied: the Master of the Saint Catherine Legend, Colyn de Coter and the Master of the Embroidered Foliage."
John Goodrich reviews exhibitions by John Lees and Janice Nowinski at John Davis Gallery in Hudson, New York, on view through November 3, 2013.
Goodrich writes that Lees' "encrusted, luminous layers of color that lend a transcendental glow to paintings poised somewhere between cartoons and devotional images. Some works impart to everyday sights – a kid with a baseball cap, a panoramic view of a farm – a dream-like aura. Others have more fanciful subjects; in one, a rising object, perhaps a large snorkel, confronts a woman in her bathtub." Goodrich continues, noting that Nowinski's "consistently brushy surfaces and predilection for darkish greens, browns and earthy reds suggest a dogged probing more than a facile brio. But Nowinski’s instincts for color, and for amplifying its expression through drawing, resonate throughout her paintings, powerfully evoking the inner character of her subjects, whether people, furniture, or tableware."
Ilaria Rosselli Del Turco blogs about both the "beauty of small paintings," and the particular problems and rewards of working on an intimate scale.
Del Turco writes: "I find that small works are particularly successful when they depict a large space, still life or a figure, rather than something 'life size,' ... a small work is never 'a reduced version' of a large work, the painting process is intrinsically different... Small format is extremely difficult and takes a long time. Little paintings draw the viewer very close and need absolute perfection to pass such a close scrutiny. Small compositional shifts might turn into disasters and 'touch,' the way paint is deposed on the surface, is paramount. Paint doesn't necessarily need to be manipulated with small and controlled strokes, on the contrary it is often a free brushwork that makes these paintings stunning and keeps them clear of the boundaries with miniature."
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.