Chippendale comments extensively on observational painting and studying with painter George Nick: "Observational painting, I learned, was not a mimetic art form. We were not in the business of copying or duplicating what was before us, but of transposing it through paint, and through the forms we each adopted as individual painters. Our goal was not to match or try to outdo what nature did best, but to interpret it through metaphors that were 'parallel' and in every way 'true' to the facts we perceived, except in being literal about them. Ideas of 'truth' in observational painting were, accordingly, not limited to ideas of 'likeness' or verisimilitude. One could be absolutely true to the richness of one’s perceptions without being literal about them, in the same way that poetry can bear witness with great precision to truths and realities that lie far outside of, and are in fact inexpressible within, the jurisdiction of the literal. I found observational painting richly full of paradoxes and contradictions, often vexingly so. Nick taught me to think more with my brush. I learned from him that making was itself a form of expressed thought, and that solutions were to be found in painting itself. Standing before the easel, considering the variables that arose in my paintings with every passing moment, I learned that it was ultimately important to act—to paint—in clear material terms, and sooner rather than later. If recklessness was the consequence, and errors and mistakes the result, then these were simply the facts and uncertainties of painting. Risk, in Nick’s view, would forever trump cautiousness, and I inferred from his approach, which I came largely to adopt myself, that being overly guarded and calculating in painting was ultimately a dishonest act."
Responding to a question about "looking at nature closely as a means of getting out of your head," O'Reilly comments: "I think that it stops me being self-conscious because it’s not something that I carefully set up and have this serious thought about which object goes where or even if it’s just shapes, I can get paralyzed pretty easily with that. If I’m outside, there is all this world of things that I’m stimulated by so when that self-conscious element is gone I’m freed up. I suppose it offers new solutions all the time because you’re looking with a fresh eye even if I go back to the same place over and over, which I do. It’s never the same. It’s a different day, the light is different, something has changed, something got moved; especially in the city. It changes daily and even along the canal it changes a lot. I go out one day and I notice a particular plant hanging over the canal, I go out another day and see a yellow truck sitting by a building, so I’m stimulated by something without a preordained idea of what I’m going to paint. I wander around and think that looks interesting, it presents itself."
August Kleinzahler reviews Richard Estes’ Realism at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, on view through February 8, 2015.
Kleinzahler writes: "Estes is identified with the photorealist school of painting. With their glossy, often hard finish, an almost enamelled quality, and photographic degree of verisimilitude, his work looks at home in that context. But it might be more useful to compare his pictures with those of the veduta painters of the 17th and 18th centuries, with Vermeer’s View of Delft and The Little Street, or the views of Venice by Canaletto and the Guardis. ... his interest in reflection ... seems to have been ignited by the pictures he saw at the National Gallery during his travels as a young artist: small Turner watercolours ‘with distorted reflections in windows – or mirrors perhaps’, Van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait, in which the mirror behind the couple reflects two figures at the door and The Rokeby Venus by Velásquez, in which she admires her own reflection in a mirror – all these pictures, Estes says, ‘seemed to open up a lot of possibilities for painting’."
Larry Groff blogs about the paintings of Lisa Breslow on view at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, New York through December 20, 2014.
Groff notes: "The emotional register of this body of work is dialed to a more serious channel for visual contemplation. Despite the loose touch everything here seems carefully considered and finds its place. There is nothing jarring, awkward or extraneous; it feels resolved. Formal issues such as the abstract structure, tonal unity and resonance of the colors, adherence to the grid and maintaining the flatness of the picture plane seem to be more important than describing and making inventory of the elements in a particular view."
Elisa Jensen shares the backstory on the work currently on view in her show Street Lines at The Painting Center, New York, through November 23, 2014.
Jensen notes: "My painting is rooted in a place—Brooklyn, at the moment—but as a general matter I am not a faithful copyist of the everyday... And speaking of combining the ancient and the modern, I see a tremendous connection between what’s happening on the corner of Nassau and Manhattan Avenue and The Book of Kells, the Lindesfarne Gospels, and the Book of Durrow."
Keane writes: "This show brings Wilson’s rarely seen cityscapes from the mid-1960s into meaningful dialogue with her sky-and-landscape paintings completed over the last twenty-five years. Through supple brushwork and radiating, overlaid chromatic arrangements of paint, these mostly large oil paintings capture the gradual, scattered and tinctured nature of sunlight, the natural impressions and undulations caused by wind patterns, the brooding textures of storm fronts, and the wild effects of humidity on light. Most interestingly, the weather depicted in Wilson’s paintings provides an immersive experience for the viewer, steeped in human vulnerability and anomie, an inspired tradition which extends back to epochal paintings like J.M. Turner’s 'Sunrise with Sea Monsters' (1845) and Gustave Caillebotte’s 'Rainy Day' (1877). Into the twentieth century, the same spirit also informs the moodier landscapes and portentous cityscapes of Wilson’s like-minded New York School brethren, such as Fairfield Porter and Jane Freilicher. In Wilson’s work, clouds and light appear so viscous and so tenuous that they carry self-referential weight. Her outdoor transformations point to the constant re-visioning of reality that is the very reason painters paint."
On the occasion of his upcoming exhibition at Prince Street Gallery, New York ( July 29 - August 16), Larry Groff writes about his new paintings and his career as a painter.
Groff notes: "To me great landscape painting is abstract painting that also has a structure and is intrinsically bound to certain visual restrictions. These restrictions paradoxically can make the process more freeing. I increasingly find that by narrowing the range of choices you free up your mind to push ideas further and to look at design possibilities more fully... Each painting has its own rules about how closely to follow observed facts. Sometimes the most interesting thing to me is the chance arrangement of forms found in the chaos of nature that is far more interesting visually than the order I might impose on it. The visual surprises from nature can be a catalyst for bigger abstract ideas that would have been difficult or impossible from invention alone. Other times nature is just a jumbled mess and you first need to wipe out everything in order to see where a painting might come out of all of it. On occasion, a more laborious (and often less successful) manner involves putting in everything that might be tried, then as the painting progresses, gradually removing the non-essential – which is somewhat like how I’ve lived my life for many years."
Barbara Morris reviews the recent exhibition Judith Belzer: Paths of Desire at George Lawson Gallery, San Francisco.
Morris writes: "Belzer explores the edge where the natural world interfaces with the industrialized landscape, emphasizing how rhythms and patterns found in nature are echoed in the structures that man has created. An underlying subtext to Belzer’s work is that the 'unspoiled' landscape is almost a thing of the past, conveying our anxious energy as we struggle for equilibrium in a world permanently altered by our actions... With dynamic, gestural line quality of paint whipping around, and surefooted and energetic areas of deftly applied color, Belzer’s churning and writhing skeins of oil manage to nonetheless convey a formal quality bordering on austere."
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.