Patrick Neal reviews Rough Cut at Morgan Lehman Gallery, New York, curated by Jennifer Samet and Elizabeth Hazan, on view through February 7, 2015. The show features works by Alexi Worth, Amy Park, Bryan Osburn, Carrie Moyer, Elizabeth Hazan, Jennifer Sirey, Sangram Majumdar, and Trevor Winkfield.
Neal writes that the exhibition "pairs artworks with the preliminary collages from which they are derived... the artists in Rough Cut demonstrate the degree to which collage can act as a conceptual and formal progenitor for a painting or sculpture. Despite its simplicity, collage as a device can influence the mechanical and philosophical bearings of an artwork. Making good on this premise, there are a range of disciplines orbiting around Rough Cut that underscore the hybrid nature of so much art-making today, everything from architecture, cartography, textiles, and theater to social media, photography, and graphic design."
Etty Yaniv blogs about the recent exhibition Mixtape! at No. 4 Studio (co-curated by Sophia Alexandrov and Todd Bienvenu) that took place during Bushwick Open Studios. The show featured works by Joe Anthony-Brown, Todd Bienvenu, Katherine Bradford, Lauren Collings, Joy Curtis, Dan Flanagan, Emily Noelle Lambert, Margrit Lewczuk, Gili Levy, Meg Lipke, Lauren Luloff, Sangram Majumdar, Jason Mones, Alexander Nolan, Mark Petersen, Matt Phillips, Kyle Staver, and Dwain Thomas Walters II.
Kohler writes that "many of the paintings read, at least initially, more abstract than representational. The paintings are seductive sensual and luscious, evincing a skill and sensitivity that few painters even get close to manifesting. At the same time they hold the viewer at a distance, raising more questions than they answer. While the paintings frustrate, complicate and undermine pictorial expectation, they also bring deep satisfaction in reflections, openings and bursts of revelation. In eluding the obvious Majumdar often utilizes blockages, obfuscations and disruptions, in the process testing how far one can push perceptual painting and improvisation... In an age when so much painting seems to be moving towards simplification, Majumdar asks us to accept the challenge of extended and thoughtful looking."
Majumdar comments: "I'm toying with the appearance of accessibility that representation carries with it... The question of why paint something that exists or why paint something to the degree that we can recognize it... I'm trying to talk about the nature of assumptions that a certain type of painting brings with it... to create a space in the painting that asks questions. When you're in that moment, by nature you're not going to get complete answers - you're going to get fragments and you're going to get possibilities - and the painting holds it together."
Yau writes that the show presents "11 paintings by artists committed to working from observation. Chronologically, the artists span five decades (or generations), with Lois Dodd and Lennart Anderson, born respectively in 1927 and 1928, being the oldest. The youngest include Gideon Bok, Anna Hostvedt, Sangram Majumdar and Cindy Tower, with Bok and Tower born in the 1960s, and Hostevedt and Majumdar born in the 1970s. The other artists are Susanna Coffey, Rackstraw Downes, Stanley Lewis, Catherine Murphy, and Sylvia Plimack Mangold, who were born between 1938 and 1949. Together, these artists — a number of whom have been influential teachers — suggest that observational painting is a vigorous, various, and imaginative enterprise that continues to fly under the radar."
In a three part video interview, Haniya Rae visits the studio of painter Sangram Majumdar.
Of his recent work Majumdar remarks: "Being someone who works with a certain amount of observation and looking at things, I wanted to… compress a space I was familiar with through day to day interaction, like my studio, against a space that I'm familiar with more through memory… and try to pull those things together, literally… complicating within the painting a physically experience space and then a space that literally doesn't exist anymore."
Regarding observation based painting, Majumdar notes: "I have always been an image-based painter, regardless of the source, be it photography, working from life, or pure invention. Often the reason I start with something physical and actual is because it gives me something to fight against. There's an immediacy to the experience that gets actualized through paint. But I also work from photos, memory end maquettes. Over the last couple years, I have been doing a series of paintings that take everyday objects and 'cast' them in a theatrical manner in my studio -- a place I often think of as a stage-set.' Basically, I am open to all sources. Painting for me becomes a way to undo the logic, and create a space that is interstitial and ephemeral."
Majumdar remarks that "Things you think about when you're painting, to me, it's interesting… I'll be painting… and I'm daydreaming about a moment of the painting somewhere else. Some people when they work from life they're very much attuned to what they're observing, I often find when I work… I'm starting with something very straightforward and observing what is happening and then trying to find echoes of that in other parts of the painting."
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.