Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Dee Shapiro at David Richards, Harlem location

Dee Shapiro's recent exhibition of new work (2019-current) at David Richards. In lieu of the boilerplate bio, she ruminates on her origins and formative artistic inspirations. It's fascinating to read her and to see her new work. From my own wallpaper paintings of 2016-2017, I feel kinship with her desire to rework borrowed imagery, by now part of a shared visual lexicon, and the pleasure she takes in re-imagining the scenarios anew.

Streaks of paint determine points of demarcation in Shapiro's figures, which she patterns around.
"When I was four, my mother taught me to knit. I was intrigued with the counting and the patterns that developed. In retrospect it was a great influence on my choice of subject in my work. As I got older, I was attracted to numbers, math and puzzles. Again, I had no idea that my future would include anything related to those interests." Shapiro's work in With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in Art at LACMA and Hessel showed tightly layered and densely colored lines in a grid-like weave and tondo format - photo on link by Anne Swartz.

"In my spare time, I drew and seemed to be good at it. In elementary school, I won the art award. That was a confirmation for me that I could take it more seriously and so I studied art at Queens College. A semester in Mexico, studying art, further shaped my interest in pattern."

"The Albers Color Course was instrumental in my involvement with colors. And the work in the show is often mistaken for weaving and people like the surprise to find it is paint."

"I am a feminist and much of my work is identified with feminism in that the work is often associated with female sources or influences. [Shapiro is a member of Women Writing Women’s Lives and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.]I don’t notice a shift in my practice but there has been a societal change among feminists since the beginning of the Women’s Movement." I relish her unabashed interest in these themes and her incorporation of collage into the brilliant hues of her large works.

"Pattern and decoration relates to the once pejorative of ‘decoration’ associated with craft or low art. The Pattern and Decoration movement elevated ‘decorative’ to high art. All art is decorative, is it not?" Shapiro asks. I love the pieced-together methodology she uses as well, a natural and informal way to work.

"Systemic painting means simply that one uses a system to make the work. It can be numbers or symbols or anything that is repetitive and organized. The best of it demands figuring it out as well as providing a visual delight.

Pattern can be systematic or not, but often is repetitive. My experience as a textile designer taught me about the repeats of an initial image, thus creating a pattern."

A beautiful drawing, cited from sources like the paintings are. I was thrilled to discover like me at age ten, Shapiro found formative inspiration in Stella's Protractor series! She states, "One major influence that I can remember was seeing the Protractor Series by Frank Stella in the late ‘60’s. By then I had two children and had been teaching since graduation. It was the geometric and decorative qualities that really knocked me out. My work up to then was mark making, somewhat minimal, yet patterns seemed to develop in some mysterious way."


Sunday, June 12, 2022

Stanley Lewis at Betty Cunningham

Behold the world of Stanley Lewis, who observes, "the harder you concentrate, the more treacherous it becomes." Backyard with a Wagon, Table, and Chair, 2022, oil and acrylic on canvas, @53 x 65 inches.

Mounted on thick, pallet-like boards, this monumental painting takes time to absorb, and apparently to paint--Lewis worked in the frigid cold on a scaffolding that adjusted to angles viewing areas of the yard.

It's a first to know acrylic was involved in the welter of marks and calibrated color.

There's loads of paint, also plastic mesh, scraps of canvas, the painting literally buckles at the bottom with the weight of all that backyard. It's simply a pleasure to behold so much information, so structured yet recreating the world with aplomb, true compression and expansion.

Table, House, Wagon, oil on canvas, 17 x 23 inches (approximately)

Intersection Post Road and Compo Road, 2015-19, acrylic on paper, 28.5 x 30 inches

Lewis' drawings are equally worked and complex, added to as the paintings are. Lovell Lake Through the Trees, 2021, ballpoint pen and pencil on paper, 11.5 x 15.5 inches

View of the Garden with Orange Fence II, 2020, acrylic on paper, 38.5 x 33.5 inches
Filled to the brim, yet spacious, and the eye climbs almost anywhere.

Odd, flattened trees, adding dynamic planar impact that condenses the weight of the painting in a focual point; changing stripes on the house, so surprising

Getting wild with orange fencing, he exclaims in a (hand-written) letter to Cunningham, "except the color is not good--too sweet, too summery, so much green and the garden fence is ORANGE."

My heart melts for this chair, beat up, hanging in there, holding its own.

Another surprise view of the garden and orange fencing in View of the Garden with Orange Fence I, 2021, acrylic on paper, 39.5 x 32 inches

The moment of realizing a clearing of white is on top, not beneath; you simply can't see that in the actual painting. The white between branches and top of car share the same plane in space, but never pictorially.

A Yale grad in the noteworthy 1960s,Lewis always represented Painting with a capital P (patriarchy too), with such a generous eye. Relentlessly pursuing his vision, he held his lamp close, recording visual secrets that unfold over years. 

Earth, bricks and mortar, embodiment and materiality: Northampton, MA, which  bracing climate yields to warmth hard-won. 

Paintings push hard, look carefully, match history in quality while revealing contemporary life. Epic surveys of a complicated landscape. I'd love to look at one all day, recreating, best I could with my eyes, the experience of painting it, layer by exquisite layer.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Judith Linhares: The Artist as Curator at Sarasota Museum of Art

Judith Linhares, Sphinx, 1990, acrylic and oil on canvas, 54 x 78 inches, in The Artist as Curator at Sarasota Museum of Art. The show is a jewel of facets that include Linhares' dreams and small gouache studies for larger works. Peruse, at leisure, below:

The interior glow of light in Linhares' paintings reflects her love for changing light and temperature from one side of a painting to the other. 
Vernacular sources become building blocks for a world in which the sun doubles itself, as do cloud forms in other works.
One of two '80s Linhares tribute to woodpeckers. The artist recounts fortuitous meetings with animals, such as a tete-a-tete with a monkey as a child in East Los Angeles! The woodpecker is a harbinger of good fortune. 
Sumptuous, large-scale photographs by Linhares' daughter Amanda Mason portray Linhares and the five artists she selected in their studios, providing insight into processs.
One case for the work tables above.
Classic Linhares in Slope, 2011, Oil on linen, 84 x 60 inches
Detail of patterns, legs, donuts.
Cove, 2010, Oil on linen, 60 x 81 inches, uniting sky and body in a fusion of marks.
Tigress, 2009, Oil on linen, 57 x 60 inches. The seminality of this work is in feminist and painting canons is indisputable, thinking about the work being made now. 

In her museum talk Linhares spoke frequently of paintings seen at distance, surprises moving closer and further from the surface. She mentioned more recently, she'd become interested in detail. This near and far phenomenon of paint discloses secrets contingent on position.
A rooster features as a Goya-like protagonist in a suddenly vast terrain of cascading color that loses spatial definition of the larger whole
Legs, logs, sun rays, with roof, cloud, and canopy: the rhythm of line and shape intensifies, as women take it easy. For Linhares, an avid reader of fairy tales, the transformation of individual consciousness through imagination, animating the world. 
Stir, 2004, Oil on linen, 54 x 78 inches
Afghan blanket builds rocks offset by line and shape.

The other 80s Woodpecker by Linhares.
Her toys, animals, and a study.
Mary Jo Vath's sock monkey hat. Vath's paintings, made from observation, demand deep staring. The doubling of light to dark, cold light to warm, and soft edge to hard generate deeper, uncanny insight on matter. Scroll to find another Vath below.
Ellen Berkenblit from 2018.
A small study of Leopold, the leopard.
Dona Nelson's Studio by Amanda Mason
Mary Jo Vath's studio by Amanda Mason
Ellen Berkenblit's studio (with Marion St. Material flourescent colors in foreground!)
Karin Davie's studio 
Dona Nelson's two-sided painting Apollo's Cockroach, 2017, 93 x 85 inches
The utterly intense Studio Portrait Over Time from 2016
By intense, I mean a subjectivity and immersion so total that the world gets remade.

Karin Davie, an exciting followup to her recent Chart exhibition, adding drips to the cosmology of viscous mark

A sweet Bill Adams Winkie-filled with innocence, joy, and malevolence 
Bill Adams drawing
Mary Jo Vath begins with roses that puddle at the bottom like blood.
Congratulations, Judith Linhares, a great painter, beacon, nspiration to so many in the persistent liberation of what paint makes possible in life.