Sunday, May 26, 2013

Gramercy Park Abstraction Confab

John Zinsser at Flight From Nature: The Abstract As Ideal.
I was taken with the metallic surfaces and wondered if the staples on the side were part of the work. Decided not.

Andrea Belag--I am noticing these paintings a lot lately--they are so free

Molly Herman. Small, very rich paintings.

Margrit Lewczuk. Hard to beat the exuberance factor in this work.

Detail, Lewczuk. Stenciling, free-hand marking, and eye-popping color.

Loose brushing. I loved this painting.

Bill Jensen, jewel color space.

Ben Pritchard.

Lewczuk's buoyantly painted cathedral floor.

The neighborhood's rich history--next door to 15 Gramercy, Robert Henri's studio

Fran O'Neill -the sense of real abandon in this painting

O'Neill again. Both 2013.

Molly Herman. 
There are many others in the show: Paul D'Agostino, Catherine Howe, Stephen Westfall, Riad Miah. This blog has good images from the show:
And the above blog, plus links to some of the artists, can be found on Painter's Table:
Painter's Table

Raggedy Ann's Foot will take a summer vacation. Happy Summer, everyone!

Out and About on the LES

Kylie Heidenheimer's new paintings show her shift from acrylic to oil, with incredible color.

Lattice work frames the edges in compelling ways.

This work will be exhibited at Galerie Gris in Hudson, NY starting June 1. The opening reception is June 8. Can't wait to see it June 10th--first chance I have to go. Apparently in Hudson, galleries stay open at the start of the week and close Tuesday/Wednesday.

Small Heidenheimers. There is something about them that reminds me of Guston in the Rome drawings.

A painting high on the wall - look at that vellatura

Detail from first painting at top, seen from close to.

Amanda Browder's Prism/Livin/Room at Allegra La Viola

A hybrid living room-gallery space. This looks like an old TV, large-scale.

Behind the scene...

Browder held a sewing workshop in the back for participants. She "seeks to open the gallery up to non-traditional audiences;" this is an inviting way to do it.
Don Voisine at Valerie McKenzie. The work is, paraphrasing Roberta Smith's 5/23/13 review, a "highly synthetic brand of abstraction" that melds modernist sources with a "meticulous exploration of the mechanics of painting."

Voisine speaks on his work Sunday June 2 at 4.30 PM at McKenzie.

"The Thrill of the Ideal" at Pocket Utopia.

It is a real joy to observe these compositions.

Johann Christian Reinhart, 1671-1847, Bavaria

The works were curated by Richard Tuttle for this show. There is a catalog.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Barnett Newman, "The Sublime Is Now," 1948*

Michelangelo knew that the meaning of the Greek humanities for his time involved making Christ-the man, into Christ-who is God; that his plastic problem was neither the mediaeval one, to make a cathedral, nor the Greek one, to make a man like a god, but to make a cathedral out of man. In doing so he set a standard for sublimity that the painting of his time could not reach. Instead, painting continued on its merry quest for a voluptuous art until in modern times, the Impressionists, disgusted with its inadequacy, began the movement to destroy the established rhetoric of beauty by the Impressionist insistence on a surface of ugly strokes.   

The impulse of modern art was this desire to destroy beauty. However, in discarding Renaissance notions of beauty, and without an adequate substitute for a sublime message, the Impressionists were compelled to preoccupy themselves, in their struggle, with the cultural values of their plastic history so that instead of evoking a new way of experiencing life they were able only to make a transfer of values. By glorifying their own way of living, they were caught in the problem of what is really beautiful and could only make a restatement of their position on the general question of beauty; just as later the Cubists, by their Dada gestures of substituting a sheet of newspaper and sandpaper for both the velvet surfaces of the Renaissance and the Impressionists, made a similar transfer of values instead of creating a new vision, and succeeded only in elevating the sheet of paper. So strong is the grip of the rhetoric of exaltation as an attitude in the large context of the European culture pattern that the elements of sublimity in the revolution we know as modern art, exist in its effort and energy to escape the pattern rather than in the realization of a new experience. Picasso's effort may be sublime but there is no doubt that his work is a preoccupation with the question of what is the nature of beauty. Even Mondrian, in his attempt to destroy the Renaissance picture by his insistence on pure subject matter, succeeded only in raising the white plane and the right angle into a realm of sublimity, where the sublime paradoxically becomes an absolute of perfect sensations. The geometry (perfection) swallowed up his metaphysics (his exaltation). 
The failure of European art to achieve the sublime is due to this blind desire to exist inside the reality of sensation (the object world, whether distorted or pure) and to build an art within the framework of pure plasticity (the Greek ideal of beauty, whether that plasticity be a romantic active surface, or a classic stable one). In other words, modern art, caught without a sublime content, was incapable of creating a new sublime image, and unable to move away from the Renaissance imagery of figures and objects except by distortion or by denying it completely for an empty world of geometric formalisms—a pure rhetoric of abstract mathematical relationships, became enmeshed in a struggle over the nature of beauty; whether beauty was in nature or could be found without nature. 
I believe that here in America, some of us, free from the weight of European culture, are finding the answer, by completely denying that art has any concern with the problem of beauty and where to find it. The question that now arises is how, if we are living in a time without a legend or mythos that can be called sublime, if we refuse to admit any exaltation in pure relations, if we refuse to live in the abstract, how can we be creating a sublime art?
We are reasserting man's natural desire for the exalted, for a concern with our relationship to the absolute emotions. We do not need the obsolete props of an outmoded and antiquated legend. We are creating images whose reality is self-evident and which are devoid of the props and crutches that evoke associations with outmoded images, both sublime and beautiful. We are freeing ourselves of the impediments of memory, association, nostalgia, legend, myth, or what have you, that have been the devices of Western European painting. Instead of making cathedrals out of Christ, man, or "life," we are making it out of ourselves, out of our own feelings. The image we produce is the self-evident one of revelation, real and concrete, that can be understood by anyone who will look at it without the nostalgic glasses of history. 

* Excerpt from "The Ides of Art, Six Opinions on What is Sublime in Art?", Tiger's Eye (New York), No.6 (15 December 1948), pp. 52-53.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Material World

First stop: Swing State, curated by Jane Kim Gallery at 119 Hester (popup location)
David Shaw's Science Night, 2012, wood, paint, holographic laminate (36 x 54 x 4.25) The "chalkboard" conceit in this work and combination of expected and unexpected materials throughout the show imbued this exhibition with a visceral feeling of working in the studio.

And of course the glimmer of light...

Thomas Nozkowski, Untitled, 1976, Black metallic rayon, vinyl, glass, aquarium gravel, milk glass, foam core, 39.5 x 50

Lisa Beck's symmetrical mirror painting, "Double Burst," 2012, enamel on broken mirror mounted on painted panels, 12 x 24
Joanne Greenbaum's ceramic sculpture, front, and Lydia Dona's "Cities of Doubt," 2012, 60 x 66 inches, using oil, acrylic, metallic and sign paint on canvas.

James Hyde, Percolate, 2011, Acryylic on paper, acrylic on acetate, acrylic on wood, acrylic on inkjet print, silicone, expandable foam, on plexiglass in a glass box...a new painting technology that harkens back to Rauschenberg's combines and forward, to construction sites, dimensional prints and...

Fabian Marcaccio. "Swing State" presents unusual output by well-known artists, and this sculptural Marcaccio, greeting us at the door, certainly came as a surprise.  

Fabian Marcaccio, Child Soldier Structural Canvas #2, 2013, pigmented ink on canvas, aluminum, alkyd paint, and silicone, 48 x 36 x 30--the size of a small child.

David Humphrey's acrylic on canvas Heat Cycle, David Diao's acrylic and collaged on canvas Hammered Black and Blue, 2011, behindDonald Moffett's Untitled, Lot 010804, 2004/2011 oil and aluminum paint on linen with wood panel support with steel tacks, galvanized bucket, concrete, rebard, wood, sheet metal, rusted chains.

On to Brooklyn and Pierogi, to see Sarah Walker's new work.

Beginning with pours, and working back into them, expands her language of smaller, compartmentalized liquid areas into a new internal scale.

Inter-galactic constellations emerge, belied by bifurcated compositions that imbue "surface tension" with new definition.
Moving about the paintings, one sees letters and numbers emerging from the abstract phenomena.

Walker has experimented with gels to give her pours a rhythmic, evenly patterned quality she then paints back into.

Pattern surrounds bursts and points of focus that sometimes pierce the surface into otherworldly spaces. The punctum is both illusionistic and material--the touch of the hand is present.

Stanley Whitney's exhibition at Team, now on Grand St. in Soho, which seems to be re-emerging as a hub for galleries.

Exciting paintings--loosely brushed, with knowing  color relationships.

Counter-rhythms, overlays and shadows or strips of a related color complicate the paintings.

The eye thrills to color relationships attenuated by touch. One thinks equally about the dynamic grids of Mondrian and the carefree, brushed surfaces of late deKooning.

Ranges of warmth, moving in and through the wheel, exploiting paint's material power to evoke sun-kissed landscapes.

Down the street at Peter Freeman, Catherine Murphy! Here, a meticulous drawing of chocolates, "Half Full," 12 x 12 inches, leading us through multiple spaces across a lavish, pencil surface.
Small, wood knot painting, one of many, which sang with chromatic and proportional harmony.

Detail of the larger work below. Murphy's look, mark, look methodology reminds me of Neil Welliver and Richard Bosman's paintings, with less brio to the paint.

This results in painting that borders the line of drawing, yet they are extremely material. One is extremely aware of the hand, and the continued back-and-forth between observation and touch.

A really weird painting--so photo-real it distorts. I love the clunky shadow as a foil to the hyper-attenuated hand and forehead. The hand is quite beautiful as a construction of paint, never mind about image.

Gift box, a jade surprise.

Ink drawings by Cynthia Lin at Garis & Hahn on the Bowery, from a three-person show that just closed.

Reviewed by Susan Silas for Hyperallergic, the show focused on skin. Lin's ink drawings continue her dematerialization of image, but the liquid media painted on both sides of vellum feels new and refreshing--combining moisture and density beneath the dry surface of scabbed or scarred flesh.

Review: Finding Empathy in the Confines of the Skin

Back to Pierogi for James Esber's exhibition of new gouache drawings. "Prostrate Figure" is my favorite.

An ornate, calligraphic application of material evolves anthropomorphic perspectives of humans, in a concise version of his Sculpey works from the 1990s.


Detail--free and easy wandering in the paint.

In another part of Brooklyn at the Gallery at I-Gap: Nancy Friedemann and her large mylar paintings.

The Gallery at I-Gap is the lobby of a Richard Meier-designed building, which hosts exhibitions every four months.

Friedemann's fanciful works, informed by lace patterns and South American folklore, explore ways that colonialism insinuates itself within decorative imagery.

Ambitiously-scaled, generously painted works invite us in,

and introduce imagery with historical resonance.

Last stop Edward Thorpe, Chelsea, to view Judy Simonian's knockout solo exhibition.

Talk about materiality! Acrylic acts like oil, pats of the brush become mountains.

A series on fish was a strange and interesting side note to her usual works that combine disparate images.

Swipes of paint yield shimmering forms fleeting past.

Adding landscape space to split the perspective and take us far into the distance.

Or reinforce the surface of the canvas.

Here, it was as if landing on a foreign planet, only to enter a theatre space. See more here: Judith Simonian at Thorp