Addison Parks reprises his 1982 article Into Bess: The Paintings of Forrest Bess.
Parks writes: "The space of the Bess image moves like a lawless dream. This kind of space is called conceptual because it can be flat, deep, massive, upside-down, bird's-eye, and backwards all at the same time. It answers to form and not to gravity. It is a look through the looking glass into a world that was more vast and exciting than that sleeping world Bess found around him. From these open plains he gave pasture to images which filtered up into his eyelids. If his paintings were to him a key to his infinite and primordial unconscious, they are keyholes for us, views into the interior where few go.
Bess did not let his paintings paint themselves, letting the unconscious flow ally with paint, hand, and eye to give color and shape to whatever whispered in his ear. Instead, he let his inspirations paint his paintings for him, giving complete control over to the prescriptions of his unconscious. He had no choice, and given the alternatives, they were at least the one thing he could trust. He could feel sure of something that burned such a strong impression in his imagination. Bess had an inspiration, and he didn't have to fret about it. It was there, he saw it, and he painted it, much in the same way a still life or landscape painter might attempt to be true to nature. The difference is that these were private images, internal and original."
Addison Parks writes about the work of Margrit Lewczuk. Lewczuk's show Me,We, curated by Suzy Spence is on view at The Gallery @1GAP, Brooklyn through April 23, 2015.
Parks writes: "Lewczuk paints monuments. To some being. To some Beingness. Like some extraterrestrial landing strip, like crop circles from space, with deafening sound, she reaches out. Encircling us. Embracing us. Hypnotizing us. Matisse as Svengali. Brancusi as painter. We find ourselves at her gate. Let go and she takes us in. The great mother. The Buddha. The unanswerable. The nothingness."
Andrianna Campbell reviews an exhibition of works by Bill Lynch (1960-2013), curated by Verne Dawson at White Columns, New York, on view through October 25, 2014.
Campbell writes: "A lambent quality suffuses Bill Lynch’s mostly untitled and undated paintings on scavenged plywood, executed during the last thirty years of his life. A furtive incandescence hovers inside them. Euphorically ambiguous, in the same breath they celebrate Chinese Ming dynasty flower-and-bird compositions, which hold complex symbolization and interior resonance, and Mesoa-American shamanistic burial textiles. In the former case, heavy impasto eclipses the lyricism that we associate with the genre, likening them more to the Chinese modernist tradition of Zhao Shaoang, whom Lynch admired. Floral and vegetal forms hang next to spiderwebs; lurking monkeys, twisted trees, and blue-and-white porcelain flirt with both aesthetics and affliction... his perspective is tremendously invigorating and unusual. In his renditions, the rectilinear surface becomes a place of close-looking at paint, at the uncompleted stroke, and of considering spiritual meaning in a contemporary world."
Matthew Collings conducts a fictional "interview" with painter Hilma Af Klint.
Colling's Af Klint notes: "if you’re a painter you spend a lot of time getting things right, getting forms to be efficient so that whatever you’re hoping to get across can have a chance of being coherent, of actually communicating to someone. You’re basically narrowing down to a very visual priority.... The trouble is, no one has yet taken the trouble to see my paintings in this ‘seeing-through’ way... But when [biographical/historical] narrative is the only focus of the art experience, the experience of painting – this discipline with its tangible realities, its materiality, its forms and colours – then there is a lack of understanding of what the experience is really about, and if you don’t understand that then you’re not really having the experience, you’re going through the motions only."
Boyd writes: " ...whether we understand the symbols or not, they tell us one very important thing–Bess was no formalist. He isn’t trying to arrange colors and shapes in an interesting, aesthetically pleasing way. I see his work as a compulsion, a need to get what he was seeing in his mind down on canvas... This kind of painting–symbolic, Jungian, mythic–was almost a movement in the days before Abstract Expressionism rose. Artists like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko dabbled in this sort of primitive surrealist symbology. Think of Pollock’s Male and Female (1942) or The She Wolf (1943), for example. It’s hard to say that Bess was a part of that tradition since he was so isolated, but the works have a lot of similarities. Pollock and Rothko moved on. For Bess, contending with his visions was a life-long pursuit."
The subject of a rare retrospective exhibitinon at the Moderna Museet, Hilma Af Klint was a pioneering abstract painter and one of the most enigmatic artists of the 20th century.
In the following video, Gertrud Sandqvist gives an informative, in depth lecture on the visionary painter. Sanqvist draws on unprecedented access to the artist's work and journals in her presentation of Af Klint's life, career, and spiritual approach to art. Working outside the European avant garde, Af Klint's abstract paintings pre-date the first abstractions of more well known modernist painters. This development is all the more striking because, as Sandqvist notes:
"[Hilma Af Klint] had no relationship to any other avant garde circles, being completely isolated in Stockholm at that time… her imagery is very, very similar - close to what later Malevich, Mondrian, and Kandinsky... were developing... [the] first abstract work that she was making was in 1907, two years before Kandinsky."
Sandqvist notes that the rediscovery of Hilma Af Klint's work began in earnest at the 1987 exhibition The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. That it took decades for her work to appeal to the public would not have surprised Af Klint according to Sandqvist:
"Hilma Af Klint's work was… esoteric, that means it wasn't shown during her lifetime. She herself in her last will said that this is 'for the future,' this is the message for humanity for the future."
Greg Cook reviews the exhibition Gregory Gillespie: Transfixed at Gallery Naga, Boston, on view through December 15, 2012.
Cook writes that Gillespie was a Massachusetts artist whose "geographical proximity might suggest a stylistic kinship with Boston Expressionists from Hyman Bloom to Henry Schwartz. But his hyper-real self-portraits, squirming landscapes, odd symbolic scenes, and Eastern mandalas fits more easily into the visionary 'Abject Expressionism' that over the past century ran through the work of artists like German Expressionist Otto Dix, Chicagoan Ivan Albright and Los Angeles’ Llyn Foulkes... Gillespie’s best work is itchy and uncanny. He paints a reality that’s not necessarily our reality, but he depicts it so powerfully, so convincingly that his images seem, almost, to be alive."
Laurence writes that the show "examines how Carr, her contemporaries and present-day practitioners have all expressed an aspiration towards transcendence, towards a state or experience beyond the ordinary." Laurence continues noting that Carr "was a deeply yet idiosyncratically spiritual person, steeped in a very personal Christianity and opposed to what she saw as the false pieties and oppressive constraints of organized religion. For her, God resided not in 'stuffy' churches but in the soaring cathedral of the British Columbia rainforest, in the sepulchral shade of its densest recesses and in the spectral light of its clearings... It symbolized and in a sense consolidated the state of mystical connection she experienced while immersed in the natural world."
James Kalm creates an in depth to of video tour of paintings by Forrest Bess recently on view at Christie's and at the Whitney Biennial, on view through May 27, 2012.
Kalm's video includes fantastic close-ups of Bess' paintings. He notes that Bess is "one of the most mythic and eccentric American painters of the Twentieth Century... this program records over twenty-six minutes of paintings, possibly documenting twenty-five percent of his life's output."
McKenzie writes that the exhibition "demonstrates the unique style and epic quality; [Davie] has the power to mystify his audience. Here we see the great importance of drawing to his artistic identity. Not only do his rapidly executed drawings portray his own private language of signs, they also exemplify how music influenced him and his interest in ancient and non-Western belief systems."
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.