Yau writes that "the marvel of the exhibition [is that] — it is all done with line, drawn or in paint. Sometimes the line becomes a rounded shape (a cloud) or a circle (sun). Short horizontal strokes are words in a book or bristly hair sprouting from skinny, naked legs... This is what I love about Guston and his work. He was haunted and did not try to hide it. He had ugly feelings, and was often disappointed. He loved all kinds of things, as his collection of old irons, which frequently appear in his painting, suggests. He loved the old masters and cartoonists equally and was not afraid to bring that love into his work. All he relied on was a line. With it he painted hooded men driving around in cars, transporting corpses and art, as if there were no difference between the two. (They were his symbol for men who hide behind the cloak of dogma, which you would think we should be sick of by now but clearly aren’t.)"
De Jong writes: "Guston's painting stands slightly apart from time, his own and our own. Yet within Guston's art is a continuity of formal and conceptual concerns that in retrospect makes Guston's entire career more seamless than has been stressed. The early Klan paintings from the thirties thru the dreamy figurative compositions of the forties and the abstractions of the fifties and sixties and finishing with the compositions of sleeping figures and brick walls and piles of shoes represents a continuity of pictorial vision and form and feeling that does not herald what was to come but instead quantifies for all concerned what painting had ever been capable of expressing."
As the gallery notes, the exhibition "is not a retrospective but a spontaneous celebration, attempting to expand our understanding of Guston with works which have not been widely exhibited, interspersed with some Guston classics which have been shown and reproduced all over the world. This exhibition is meant to surprise us as well as to satisfy us, marking the centenary of one of our great artists."
Andrew Martin muses on the significance of painter Philip Guston's return to figuration: "Like Dylan going electric at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, Guston’s figurative turn remains the centerpiece of his personal mythology."
Recounting both the severe critical reactions to Guston's rejection of abstraction and Guston's own attitude toward his figurative paintings Martin concludes: " ...we can appreciate Guston’s work for the brilliant, purposeful mess of contradictions that it is... In the years since... Guston’s paintings retain a striking originality of vision, but they no longer look quite so bizarre or out of place."
Frank Hobbs blogs some thoughts about the painting process by the painter Philip Guston as well as a link to a video of Guston in his studio painting and discussing his work.
Hobbs quotes Guston: "Destruction of paintings is very interesting to me and almost crucial. Sometimes I find that what I destroyed five years ago I'll paint now, as if when the thing first appears you’re not ready to accept it. There's some mysterious process here that I don’t even want to understand..."
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.