Thaddeus Radell reviews an exhibition of works by Stanley Lewis at Betty Cuningham Gallery, New York, on view through October 25, 2014.
Radell writes: "Of more interest ... than Lewis’ prowess in amassing ... seething layers of details is the dynamics that he employs to exceed both the details and the marks themselves. In this respect, a parallel drawn to Faulkner might be ventured. Faulkner wraps the broader scope of his narrative into a labyrinth of language that entangles time and space, creating profoundly evocative studies of the human psyche. Time, space, narrator, characters, plot and theme often leap ahead, double back or splinter off, only to find themselves part of a breathtaking orchestration, resulting in some of the most poignant tales in American literature. In a similar way, Lewis knots and weaves his painted or drawn passages into the formal context of his subject: in part, by literally cutting and pasting, and in part by recklessly juxtaposing areas of dissimilar spatial orientations. The assembly results in a densely tactile, rich phrasing while maintaining a certain buoyancy of light and atmosphere. Lewis reaches for his own heights of interpretation- almost in spite of his steadfast observation of the motif."
Smollin notes that Lewis and Li's "orientations and attitudes toward material and matter may depend on the force of climatic presence for their clarity. Yet, their physical means to convey the singular authenticity of living a scene, on site as they do, is obtained by placing the primary structure of seeing through tactile synthesis of light and time as if within our reach... [Lewis projects] a metaphor between the primary task of rendering the real here and now, as an extension of the external spirit of that thing as a prototype for human being in the world. We see its transitory nature more intensively than we notice its identifying features... Li has a wonderful tendency to meld the metaphysics of form to image. Binding color to intricate spatial relationships, leaping aside references to Auerbach or Kossov, she lifts the edge of forms sufficiently off their plane to accelerate how it is we estimate the volume of pictorial space. Art historical references may be set aside from both Lewis and Li since their visions, so alike in material presence, use depiction to arrest and defy stylistic legacies. They dwell clearly in the present."
David Carbone reviews an exhibition of paintings by Stanley Lewis at Betty Cuningham Gallery, New York, on view through October 25, 2014.
Carbone writes that Lewis’s works "carry a real one-two punch. Here are deliberately banal subjects — backyards, suburban scenes, calendar views of Lake Chautauqua — transformed by a brilliant but tortured way of realizing a painterly image that can yield work of rare satisfaction and ambition. The fascination he arouses comes partially from an almost irreconcilable tension between working directly from observation, with exacting attention to small forms, and a very contemporary, almost sculptural painting process that builds a work with obsessively dense materiality... we are invited to move back and forth from the world depicted to the traces of his process. Ultimately, Lewis’s sucker punch is to shift our attention from quotidian views to his inner experience of looking and making, to the meditative adventure of what painting can be."
Eleanor Ray examines the "temporary equilibrium" achieved in great painting. In particular Ray discusses this quality in the work of Philip Guston, Stanley Lewis, and Giorgio Morandi.
Morandi, she writes, "brings painting to the edge of representation, painting objects so simple that they are nearly reduced to shapes and lines, but never are. He locates the power of a line in the tension between its simplicity as a mark and its existence as something else — the space between two boxes or fingers. We can’t see a line or a shape in his still life as merely what it is because we can’t separate it from its participation in the painting’s representation. The language of painted notation disappears when you try to isolate it."
Lewis achieves an equilibrium, she notes, "between matter and imaginative experience, between a teeming surface and a spatial world. We can’t fix what we see into paint or image alone, or force it into schematic generality; it remains hidden in its particularity."
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?"
Thaddeus Radell 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.
Radell writes that "after slogging through the demoralizing, conceptually sodden eclectic streets of Chelsea, with only an occasional ‘find’ or rare glimmer of pictorial dignity, a resounding visual feast lies in wait at the Academy. This exhibition is a decisive, erudite celebration of the act of figurative painting. The conceivable and valid argument made for the inclusion of several other painters amongst the Center’s considerable stable of artists (Kaldis, Blaine, Freilcher) is quickly muted by the breadth and depth of what is now on view. Fueled by Abstract Expressionism but with a temperament and passion more keenly addressed to representing the world around them, these seven artists, all of whom knew, respected and interacted each other to varying degrees, together deliver an irrefutable vitality to their page in the history of art. And if individually they do not, at times, significantly or broadly enhance that sacred text in the true Elliot-driven sense, together theirs is a story in bold text."
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."
John Goodrich reviews Nature is the Teacher at the Painting Center. Goodrich eloquently describes both the miraculous qualities of sight (and the "rich connections" it provides) and the increasing marginalization of sensory experience. He concludes: "the work of the four participating painters - Simon Carr, Stanley Lewis, Thaddeus Radell, and Deborah Rosenthal - argues cogently for the interdependence of visual awareness and artistic tradition."
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.