Murphy comments: "I used to just say all representational painting is narrative. But I think it is all narrative, and I think form can be subject... I ... considered how I could make these two things— form and subject—mutually inclusive, not exclusive. How do I make these two things depend on one another so that they can’t be separate but neither can be denied? How do I get the pitch of both of them equal but somehow supportive of one another? That is what I’ve been trying to do for a long time. But it took a long time to understand, or even have the courage to do. One of the reasons I decided that subject really matters is that people buy paintings according to the subject. I have yet to meet someone who bought a painting of a subject they wanted nothing to do with, simple as that. When I love a painting, that’s part of why I love it too. I see paintings abstractly, first and foremost, but if it’s going to be a representational painting, if it’s going to be a Descent from the Cross, I’m not going to be blind to that."
Kessler writes: "Except for Cézanne's early dark, heavily impasto paintings, I don’t see his work as solid, heavy and immobile, the way they're usually described. Just the opposite. I experience them as unstable, weightless volumes of elusive, colored light... Bottles are asymmetrical, tables are tilted up, the composition changes point of view, volumes flatten out (probably because they are often outlined in black), and figure and ground sometimes merge. All these thing create tension because the mind seeks harmony and balance, and when it’s not there, the brain will create it. From the corner of my eye, I often see the illusion of objects – apples, plates, bottles, etc. – move. The forms seem to wobble, float and shift in space. At minimum, I feel the tension."
Scott Indrisek profiles painter Gina Beavers whose paintings were recently on view at Retrospective Gallery, Hudson, New York.
Indrisek writes that Beavers'"paintings aren’t simple reproductions of the ubiquitous 'this is what I ate today' images shared via social media. 'If I paint something directly from a photo it looks like a copy,' she explained. Beavers constructs a base for the image, generally using thickened acrylic medium that she carves and moves with a simple plastic deli knife. Once the representative shapes are built, she paints on top of them; the finished works have a lumpy, physical quality, as if you could indeed scoop them off the wall and devour them. The artist mixes in various other agents in order to achieve specific effects, like the dappled skin on raw duck legs. Beaver’s topographic surfaces have a gnarly depth, flirting with intentional kitsch, a bit like the dimensional tableaux of Lynn Foulkes. 'Building up [the work] interferes with my ability,' she said. 'It looks a little more handmade. The painting is trying to mess with me, and I’m trying to calm and tame it.'"
Samet writes that the "defining characteristic of De Niro’s work is the line: the arabesque that rounds the form of the female figure, the guitar, the vase, and the brusque angles that define table edges, houses, windows. He uses these marks even to cover deeply saturated color areas. These gestural outlines have the energy of Abstract Expressionism, yet, if Willem de Kooning deconstructed forms, De Niro put them back together. Perhaps this is why Storr speaks of 'pleasure,' why the painter Paul Resika, interviewed for the film, admires his precociousness... De Niro painted like the French symbolists he admired: a repetition of forms and motifs symbolizing ideals: beauty, sensuality, music, poetry. He was reductive rather than graphic: expressing a feeling rather than a narrative. It is clear from both the quality of his line and his writings on art that he valued understatement. He suggests distinct gestures, figural poses, and objects with an economy of means, accuracy, and reserve."
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."
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.