Kyle Staver, Danae and the Parakeet, 2009, oil on linen, 63 x 53 inches (courtesy of the artist)
Carl Belz considers the challenges of painting the figure and examines the work of Kyle Staver and Anne Harris.
Belz writes: "Of all the subjects available to painting, subjects ranging from stripes and squares to fields of color, from landscape vistas and city streets to ordinary objects close at hand, none is brought to the task of expression with more baggage than the human figure... despite what the figure's been put through in order for painting to accommodate it, the fragmentations and distortions and attenuations, the flattening and reshaping of it into images we may not recognize in the mirror but in which we are nonetheless compelled to acknowledge our reflection. Whatever its story, then, and however it appears, the figure verifies our being in the world and substantiates our claim to possessing identity as an individualized self."
Staver painted the triptych to honor her brother who passed away six years ago. Seed writes "Although the paintings can be seen together as a cycle, Staver is mainly concerned that each image tells a strong story that can be related to the other panels. 'What is important for me, as a painter,' she relates, "Is that the three panels hold together and have the 'gestalt' to be cohesive, without relying on pictured sequencing, as in comic books.' Another element that connects the paintings is humor, something Staver finds essential; 'I do think humor is terribly important in painting. It is the constant and steady reminder of our humanity; the foible aspect of being alive.' "
John Seed profiles painter Anne Harris. He writes that Harris paints "women who transfix their viewers with projections of uncomfortable and uncanny emotional states. Each of her paintings is a paradox, a challenge, a chimera, and to some degree a self-portrait." The post is illustrated with a selection of Harris' paintings including a work in progress, a self-portrait in a red robe that Seed notes is "a step closer to Goya than any other artist working today."
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.