Real States featuring paintings by Tom Burckhardt, Clare Grill, and Sangram Majumdar is on view at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, New York, from February 10- March 13, 2016.
This is the final weekend to see Real States at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects on the Lower East Side. The show features paintings by Tom Burckhardt, Clare Grill, and Sangram Majumdar. The works of each of these artists engage with the notion of image, but also confound it. The press release notes that the artists "all make paintings that engage abstract or abstracted forms on the armature of an implied grid. However, these forms and shapes are simultaneously allowed to fall away from any such structure."
A panel discussion titled The Abstract Image, moderated by art historian and critic Jennifer Samet, was held at the gallery on February 28, 2016. With their paintings around them, all three artists started off by talking about their process and it's relation to image-making.
Sangram Majumdar commented that moving away from recognizable imagery is "a way to arrive at a place that's a bit more unknown. I think there's an anxiety about looking at things. The longer I look at them I start disbelieving... so the painting process for me becomes a way to get closer to what ... drew me into that imagery."
Clare Grill responded: "I want my work to feel specific... [the source material] provides a mood, or a feeling, or a reason to make a painting. And that's it. And then it becomes something else - it becomes a painting."
Noting that Majumdar and Grill work from something that exists in the world, Tom Burckhardt commented: "I work in the opposite way... In terms of the image-making, I really start from absolutely nothing - it's akin to ... surrealist automatic writing ... and out of that generality what I eventually move towards is specificity." Referring to working on cast supports, he continued: "But my relationship to the support is incredibly specific from the beginning... if you [Grill and Majumdar] are working from something in the world, something that has a representational life somewhere, for me the only thing that's like that is the sculpture of the painting."
Although focusing his review on many of the younger and mid-career painters in the exhibition, including Clare Grill, Sangram Majumdar, Ellen Berkenblit, and Samantha Bittman, Yau notes that "Joan Brown and Charles Garabedian are the presiding spirits of the show Painting Forward at Thomas Erben. They could also be described as the presiding spirits of today’s art scene. By that I mean they did something more than go their own way; each developed a pictorial language that was unmistakably her or his own, and, more importantly, was simultaneously accessible and mysterious — a complete world that never gave itself entirely away."
Yau writes: "It is in the painting itself that Burckhardt, who was born in 1964, distinguishes himself from other abstract artists of his generation. Rather than relying on a particular or signature process, vocabulary, message or aesthetic justification (which is what 'provisional painting' has predictably become), he discovers the painting through what can only be called trial and error. He introduces an image into the work, overlaps it with something else, covers nearly everything over and starts again. While one sees the evidence of earlier stages peeking through many of his paintings, Burckhardt doesn’t fetishize his pentimenti. He isn’t trying to impress the viewer with his labor, which, like watching a weightlifter having to prove how much he can hoist in the air, quickly proves tiresome."
Dennis Kardon reviews From Now On In at Brian Morris Gallery and Buddy Warren Inc., New York, on view through April 25, 2015. The show features works by Michael Berryhill, Tom Burckhardt, Steve DiBenedetto, Lydia Dona, Fabian Marcaccio, Carrie Moyer, and Alexi Worth.
Kardon notes: "Significant painting is so difficult to attain today because it requires a navigation of a dynamic that acknowledges arbitrariness while embracing specificity. Lacking an overriding ideology, there is no particular mandate anymore to make a painting any particular way with any particular subject matter (earnest exhortations from various painting sects notwithstanding). While admitting their methods are arbitrary, painters must then find a way to be specific, to make decisions that matter and elucidate a particular structure and feeling as it evolves. The seven painters included here build their paintings in ways that are neither programmatic nor simply rendered, each one taking a very different approach to ambiguity."
Behnke writes: "Burckhardt's work blurs the lines between painting and sculpture, the Modern and the Conceptual.... [his] work often deals with traditional stereotypes of artists viewed through an individually conceptual filter. He describes his personality as a wedge between the motivating force of doubt (think de Kooning or Guston) and the absurdity of placing oneself in that position. But let's not forget that these are striking paintings as well even without Burckhardt's keen, direct and conceptual observations."
William Eckhardt Kohler blogs about the "weekend" exhibition Mark, Wipe, Scrape, Shape at Spaceshifter - the studio of painter Sangram Majumdar.
Kohler features "11 painters, Michael Berryhill, Gideon Bok, Matt Bollinger, Katherine Bradford, Tom Burckhardt, Jackie Gendel, Amy Mahnick, Majumdar, Kyle Staver, Didier Williams and Karla Wozniak, work in a variety of idioms; perceptual, abstract, poetical, narrative and conceptual... The dominant tone of these artists' orientation is that of idiosyncratic visionaries, rolling up their sleeves and forging a personal understanding of what painting can do. What is demonstrated here is that the newness is in what each artist brings to the table as each their own brilliant self; original rather than ideological or radical."
Yau writes: "At his best, Burckhardt is able embrace both the abstract and the representational is such that we must read the paintings in different, often contradictory ways without ever reaching a conclusion.... By establishing contradictory possibilities, Burckhardt echoes both his love of, and disbelief in, painting. He refuses to be either nostalgic or cynical."
Christopher Joy and Zachary Keeting visit the studio of Tom Burckhardt who discusses his work and questions of authenticity and doubt in painting.
Burckhardt elaborates on ideas he shared with John Yau in a recent interview: "I do like the idea, like I said, of embedding this doubt. I also think that in a way it makes them from the beginning, yeah, fake in a certain way. They’re kind of like a representational sculpture. And then from that fake, false beginning, maybe they’re a little bit like masks, somehow. It’s my job to wrestle them back into integrity with the painting. I was thinking that the early work squashed something down to the ground and then they grew up; and, to me, these come out laterally into a point of integrity. You know, I really love painting, but I also want to make fun of it. I want to have that full range of experience. I don’t want to be a true believer, and wear blinkers about it. I want to acknowledge its absurdity, that’s the thing. I think the key word is 'absurdity,'and I always thought that 'absurd' is a lovely, generous word about a relationship to something."
Tom Burckhardt: Pretty Little Liars will be on view at Tibor de Nagy, New York, October 17 - November 24, 2012.
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.