Einspruch writes that in the 1950s, "Bay Area Figuration, an undersung movement (undersung relative to Pop, anyway) of west coast painting and sculpture that took the discoveries of then-recent abstraction and applied them to figurative subjects... something novel yet as visually luscious as AbEx... A small sampling, but an excellent one, is on display at the Yale University Art Gallery ... in contrast to the Yale show, where the artists are using the methods of abstraction to make figurative paintings, Bailey is doing the converse. The objects and spaces are drawn with a precision that harkens to Charles Scheeler, but his objective is to work the color field, making arrangements of shapes based on the Umbrian palette that has terra rosa, yellow ochre, and cobalt blue as its primaries."
Alexander notes: "Both artists build paintings of exquisite beauty out of the rawest materiality of the medium and the language. Both retained throughout their lives an essential connection to the impulses and structures of observed reality."
In the first post of a new blog series titled "What is Painting?", Matthew Ballou considers what painting is to him.
Ballou writes: "Painting, to me, is a love of attention. That is, as I pay attention to experiences and objects and ideas and light and space and hope, my painting becomes a kind of index of those things. It is made in the humble expectation that others will also offer their own contemplative attentiveness, submitting to the possibility of meaning in the work. In sharing our attention, we share in the reality of others. The best painting will always be a relational conduit. Paintings are a physical artifact proving the potential for meaning in the world. In spite of everything, emotions are real, ideas are real, experiences are real, objects are real, and people are real. Paintings offer some sort of embodied proof that intangible things are real."
David Rhodes reviews the recent exhibition Cézanne Site/Non-site at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.
Rhodes writes that in the exhibition "two concepts coined by the New York artist Robert Smithson during the 1960s have been used to explore aspects of the landscape and still life paintings of Paul Cézanne. For Smithson 'site' was the outdoors and 'non-site,' the studio... In 1967 Smithson argued that Cézanne’s formal achievements had been over emphasized — beginning with the Cubists — at the expense of the important relationship he believed the paintings held to location and environment. Although it might actually seem impossible, to overestimate Cézanne’s formal impact on painters who came after him – only two names need be mentioned, Matisse and Picasso – the consideration of the physical context in the production of Cézanne’s painting is indeed very rewarding. The exhibition rigorously explores the dialectic between open air and studio, convincingly demonstrating an eventual synthesis of the hitherto mutually exclusive experiences. Whereas the impressionists concentrated on landscape alone, Cézanne consistently painted both landscape and still life, eventually seeking to integrate the two, erasing the boundaries (both imaginary and physical) of inside and outside."
Maidman notes that Anderson "applies paint to the canvas with a fully integrated understanding of the relationship between paint as a physical phenomenon, and paint as a medium which depicts. He paints with the intuition of experience, with verve and self-confidence. His brushstrokes are neither too little nor too much. There is a poetry to their balance which might be perceptible only to those who have grappled with the intricate demands of painting."
Hegenbart writes: "Dalwood aligns with Cézanne in the way in which he intermarries objects and references, but transforms the musicality that resonates in Cézanne’s work into a cold rational über-structure, creating an objectivity via external perspective of things, almost like a view from the interzone. Dalwood’s work is many things, but not warm, often featuring a stark lack of people to establish a super-realist environment somehow reminiscent of the emptiness of Giorgio de Chirico. Yet, it is not what Hal Foster calls ‘the return of the real’ confronting us in Dalwood’s paintings: his works clearly point to their own constructedness. This challenges the viewer to overcome the fiction, to pull apart the multitude of histories Dalwood stitches together. Dalwood does not want to be beautiful or aesthetically appealing. His approach towards painting might be described as analytical rationality that breaks down thought processes into visual fragments, leaving it to the viewer to reassemble them. This non-unity allows for an ultimate unity via the viewer’s process of meaning-making. Like in an interzone, there are no guidelines, no rules or regulations that serve as guidance for the process."
Vonn Sumner writes about the work of Wayne Thiebaud on the occasion of the exhibition Wayne Thiebaud: American Memories at the Laguna Art Museum, on view through June 1, 2014.
Sumner observes: "The more traditional and honest Thiebaud tries to be, the more radical his work becomes. In this age of ever-shortening attention spans, he shows us a complex kind of long looking. In his later series of 'Cities and Landscapes,' especially, Thiebaud orchestrates a kind of anthology of seeing: glimpses, glances, infinite perceptual observation, and long-held memories, things seen up-close, from far away, from above, from below, frontally presented and from every conceivable kind of point of view and perspective—all within a single painting. Art writer Jed Perl has formulated that the very best artists of the Modern era are simultaneously radicals and traditionalists; Thiebaud fits that description as well as any artist I can think of. His achievement is not that he fit into a particular movement, but that he remained so impossible to categorize. He combines a certain 'Pop' sensibility with realism, abstraction, impressionism, cubism, cartooning, sign painting, and too many other influences to list. The result is an idiosyncratic American gumbo of a style uniquely his own."
Carbone writes: "Soutine remains an outsider to the mainstream narrative of Modernism; he belongs instead to the still largely unwritten alternative history of modernist figurative painting. Well aware of all the developments from Post-Impressionism through Cubism, Soutine absorbed their lessons but rejected the language of abstract signs, and chose to develop his art out of the sensually rich tradition of nineteenth century naturalism: Corot, Courbet and their forerunners Rembrandt, Chardin and Goya. Foremost in this was his commitment to painting from life, which allowed him to connect emotionally to what he saw, to wed his strong temperament to a deep empathy with his subjects. Working directly from life also allowed him to evade academic solutions to depicting the world, instead paying attention to the complex nature of our seeing; how we map the world as we turn our head and our eyes... the kinesthetic rhythms that animate his landscapes and portraits, which also knead the hanging and splayed bodies of dead animals, suggest the bodily experience of dance and song, especially the plaintive cry of the human voice. This is the pictorial equivalent of García Lorca’s idea of Duende, a demonic possession that comes from a trembling in the moment, in being truly present in the work itself."
Howard Hurst reviews the exhibition John Gordon Gauld: Interstellar Overdrive at Salomon Contemporary, New York, on view through May 10, 2014.
Hurst writes: "For every good new painting in the world there seems to be at least five of the half-baked variety. John Gordon Gauld’s selection of carefully hand painted still lives at Solomon Contemporary provide a surprising antidote to this wave of slapdashery... Gauld’s intimately scaled canvases are painstakingly painted with egg tempera. His pristine surfaces radiate with saturated color and diffuse light. Flowers, ceramics, fruits, and tchotchkes of every ilk seem to flaunt the lush intricacy of their surfaces. These are masterfully wrought canvases: Gauld seems to take hints from the renaissance masters; indeed he uses a variety of rare, historical pigments. There is a clear sense of tradition. Immediately one is struck with the quality of craft."
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.