Thursday, August 02, 2018

Musings on Landscape: Paul Bloodgood at White Columns and Susan Hartnett

Three Dividing, Two Uniting, 2007. 92.5 x 76.5 inches. Oil on canvas.
I'm deep in a project, so it's hard to do much else but tromp to the studio and home again. However Paul Bloodgood's White Columns exhibition was a must--I've been wanting to see these paintings since reading his incredible artist statement in 2010--and is just four blocks away from home. The show does not disappoint in its love for and translation of Chinese landscape through western abstraction. See gallery link for the install. Gallery Link
Slight Wind, 2009, oil on board, 19 x 23 inches.
On his 2010 Guggenheim Foundation page, Bloodgood wrote one of the best artist statements I've ever read: "My paintings take landscape as their subject and as a conceptual point of departure. I begin with preparatory collages made out of parts and details taken from other landscape painters as well as from photographs and drawings I’ve made around the Mt. Khatadin region of Maine. Pollock’s Black Enamel paintings, Cezanne’s late works, and the landscapes of the late-Ming Dynasty painter Tung Ch’i-Ch’ang are a few of the sources I draw from. The collage process allows me to reorient the foreground, midground, mountain, and sky organization characteristic of landscape painting and reconceive it as a dynamic that changes at every scale of time and place. Illogical spatial relations, inconsistencies of scale, imbalanced masses, and ambiguous transitions become the organizing principles of the paintings, and they create a structural dissonance that is incompatible with representational depictions of landscape. But as these elements of space change position, a very different perceptual field of vision opens, and human activity takes shape with the wind, trees, and rivers." Guggenheim Foundation link
Study 5, Collage on paper, 2009-11, 10 x 12.5 inches
Shade, 2009, 19 x 23, oil on canvas.
I concur with Bloodgood on the fusion of western abstraction and Chinese landscape, though personally approached it through a liquid-on-paper sensibility. Bloodgood moves straight into the meat and potatoes of oil on canvas wielding a palette knife that digs deep into the painting surface.
Study for Thing Language, 2008. Oil on canvas, 24 x 29 inches.
The energetic pathways, slices of line and color, variegated white surface are exciting. 
After Study 2 for "Invitation to Reclusion," 2007-8, oil on linen, 46 x 38 inches.
The reference to landscape is more overt early on, before he starts moving the line-shapes over a grid.
Study for Counter Piece, 2013 Oil on canvas, 16 x 10 inches.
Study for Enclosure, 2013, Oil on canvas, 24 x 18 inches. White as mass AND space.
Early Light, 2012, oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches.
Pencil Clay, 2011, oil on linen, 92 x 76 inches.
Study for Composition by Field, 2008, oil on linen, 46 x 38 inches.
An outlier given its clear reference, but the stacked space fails to convince--a harbinger for the later grids?
X After 1000, 2000. Oil on linen, 92 x 102 inches.
This painting greets you upon entering the gallery, with simply gorgeous color and facture. Each tree element is blocked in, so while there is delicious variety throughout, and we see the wonderful passages clearly, the repetitive monotony of each foliage elements is far less interesting than in scroll painting. It makes evident he wants to extract an essence from Chinese painting, but it's not going to be plant idioms. But the exciting rocks!! I could stare at them all day.
August 15, 1992, pastel on paper, 18 x 23-3/4  inches
The other day I fell into conversation with a fellow customer at Soho Art Materials: Susan Hartnett. Here is another person influenced by Chinese painting--also working relatively 'dry'--on pastel and paper from grasses. Hartnett has over 2,000 of these drawings and creates them daily. These images are screen grabs from Danese-Corey and Xeno X galleries.
The exquisite October 12, 02 #1, from 2002--charcoal, 22.25 x 30 inches
Related so much to Bloodgood--I wonder if he knew her work, and am sure he did: Susan Hartnett's
February 1 '97 Into the Woods, Into the Snow, 1997, pastel on painted paper,  49.75 x 64.25  inches