Since the early days of Color Field painting, working on unprimed canvas or linen has given the impression of a certain unfinished immediacy–more like the page of a sketchbook than a finished painting. At Frieze this weekend, unprimed materials (or the look of unprimed materials) were well represented, suggesting that painters are still interested in a new realism that subtly fuses the sculptor’s attention to objecthood and materiality with two-dimensional shape and image.
presented a large-scale patchwork-like piece (detail above) composed of
raw linen rectangles. The stitching makes the patches look repurposed,
as if the patches had a previous, more meaningful, utilitarian life.
Constructed from a wide range of found textiles, Jensen’s paintings
recall elements of classic modern abstraction. The linens, silks,
cashmeres, burlaps, wools and canvases that he employs have all been
exposed to a range of conditions, activities and owners, and Jensen—who
once described his work as “painting without paint”—often adopts as
pictorial elements the traces of wear and prior use that mark his
fabrics. He stretches, glues, and sews them onto or into one another,
sometimes treating these found supports with bleach, dyes, diamond dust,
or other substances to make the final work. Combining the purposeful
with the accidental, Jensen’s work gives shape to recent
reconsiderations of modernism’s utopias; his paintings remind us that
those myths survive today only as style.
Known for using unexpected materials like trash and bubble gum to make paintings, Dan Colen, presents bootprints on unprimed canvas.
Compared to his older work, which was small scale and dark, Michael Bauer’s new paintings, on display in a couple different booths, feature a larger scale, sketchier forms, more playful squiggles, and a more open, unprimed canvas field. Image above: The Shadow of Bob Seger–Slow Future–Doomed AA, 2013, oil on canvas, 82 x 78 inches.
South African artist Zander Blom squeezes globs of saturated paint straight out of the tube on unprimed linen. “A limitation by its very nature forces one to seek out alternative
avenues or ways to solve problems, and in doing so it can open up a
range of new possibilities,” Blom said last year on the occasion of a solo show at Stevenson in Cape Town. “This year I’m narrowing my focus and sharpening my craft.” Stevenson’s booth had a surplus of Blom’s paintings, in all different sizes and colors.
Rachel Harrison‘s installation includes spray painted Adirondack chairs and a few bolts of folded canvas. Pretty funny take on the ongoing sculpture/painting dialogue. That’s a big Jacqueline Humphries silver painting in the background.
Unknown artist (or comedian)*
This small 2013 piece by Lesley Vance may look like it’s made on unprimed canvas, but actually it’s linen painted a canvas-like color. When artists start painting primed linen to look like unprimed canvas I have to conclude that the irresolute look of unprimed canvas is unquestionably having its moment. Perhaps the growing presence of this type of work at Frieze is a signal that dealers and collectors are finally warming to elements of provisional painting and casualist abstraction.
combination of bad note taking (sorry), lack of wall labels and/or
scarcity of checklists. Writing any sort of timely, informed report of art fair art is challenging enough due to the limited viewing time, but the scarcity of information (either in print
and online) makes posting even more difficult. I guess, by design, art fairs are supposed to be fast and loose, right? If you can identify the unknown artists, please leave a comment. Thanks–it takes a village.
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