November 30, 2013

Margaret Murphy: Unavoidable truth

On Artfcity, Whitney Kimball observed, with some justification, that young artists these days seem broadly reluctant to incorporate confrontational political content into their work. But there are many salutary role models, from William Powhida and Jen Dalton to Marlene Dumas and Steve Mumford. Wedding heart and craft, Margaret Murphy should also be included on the list.

Margaret Murphy, Tell Your Son to Behave, 2013, acrylic, ink on fabric mounted on board, 14 x 14 inches.

November 27, 2013

Ryan McLaughlin: Painting is flat

Remember Worcester-born, Berlin-based Ryan McLauglin's Treif Collage paintings at Frieze last year? Hovering between still life and abstraction, the charming yet dour small-scale paintings featured a minimal, greyed-down palette and shallow space. In "Raisins," his solo show at Laurel Gitlen, McLaughlin has moved even closer to abstraction, depicting the flattened space of billboards and advertisements. The palette is brighter and the images look redacted, as though McLaughlin has scraped off more concrete, specific images.

[Image above: Ryan McLaughlin, Space, 2013, oil on MDF, framed, 8 x 10 inches.]

November 22, 2013

Gregory Amenoff's studies

Gregory Amenoff has discovered a new decisiveness. He generated his previous paintings improvisationally, arriving at images directly through the process of painting. In contrast, Amenoff's new large-scale canvases are based on small pencil studies, which he made during a trip to Paris in the summer of 2012. "I was staying in a nice apartment so I couldn't paint--I'm a sloppy painter. I bought a couple hundred colored pencils and some fairly hard paper, and I decided to develop some new images," Amenoff told me. "For the first time in two years I was really excited by the images."

Gregory Amenoff, Polaris, 2012, oil on canvas, 66 x 60 inches.

November 20, 2013

Providence report: Leigh Tarentino and Duane Slick

Iridescence is the unphotographable thread that runs through LeighTarentino's winter landscapes and Duane Slick's stripes and Coyotes on view at the Chazan Gallery in Providence.

Tarentino's shimmering night paintings depict houses, yards and gardens illuminated by artificial lights hung on solitary ornamental trees. Carefully drawn, the masked geometric shapes create containers for less controlled, unruly painterly approaches such as pouring and pooling. The dark images, laced with silver metalic pigment, evoke a palpable sense of longing and loneliness as they emerge from the blackness. An assistant professor at Brown University, Tarentino is working toward several shows, including a 2014 solo at Mixed Greens in New York.

[Image above:  Leigh Tarentino, untitled, 2013, acrylic on panel, 24 x 30 inches.]

November 18, 2013

Painting of the Day: Scott Reeder @ Lisa Cooley

Detroit artist Scott Reeder's compelling show at Lisa Cooley is full of wise-ass text-based work that features masking, airbrush and more. In the back room, two large canvases are painted to look like old-fashioned blackboards. The one on the left, Alternative Titles for Exhibitions I've Seen, has been selected as today's Painting of the Day. It reads:
Indoor Street Art
Abstraction for Beginners
Believe it or Not, I Own a Computer
Painting is Dead, But These Paintings Are Still Available
The Book Was Better Than The Movie, But This Show is Worse Than Both
Illusion Of Intelligence (Part 3)
Popcorn And Hammocks
Warhol Did It Better, But Warhols are Hella Expensive
Fluxus Redone But Not Mentioned
Even Smaller / Less Impressive
Punk For Sale
We Do It 4 The JPEGS
LAZY Arangements
If Not The Walls Then Where?
(Just Kidding We're Just Going To Lean It Or put it On the Floor Like Everyone Else)
And Your thought You Were Bored Before?
Fake Casual
Post Good
Mad At Museums (Part 6)
Not For Sale! (Until Late)
Just Think Of Me As A Philosopher Who Sells Things
Important Art Referenced Unimportantly
Bad Art In Good Taste
Good Job! (100% Like Everything Else)
Forgetable Objects Arranged According To Current Trends
 We Should Just Throw This Shit Right Into A Dumpster But...
The Men's Movement
Can't Say I Hate It
We're Still Doing Black And White Right?
Are Reeder and William Powhida pals? If not, they should be.

"Scott Reeder: People Call Me Scott," Lisa Cooley, LES, New York, NY. Through December 22, 2013.

Studio visit: Matthew Langley and the palette knife

My neighbor and fellow abstract painter Matthew Langley and I have always agreed that process is important--that how an abstract painter paints is as revealing as what he or she paints.

At art school in the eighties and early nineties, during a period of intensely tactile materiality for abstract painting, Langley and I both embraced the work of painters like Terry Winters, Brice Marden, Susan Rothenberg, Bill Jensen, Elizabeth Murray, and Jake Berthot. I think Langley, who is from DC, would also include Color Field Painting on his list of important influences. While I was picking up a few of my paintings from his studio the other day, we discussed the unfinished painting that was sitting on his easel.

[Image above: Matthew Langley's studio.]

November 11, 2013

An invitation: Water, Water...

Kianga Ellis Projects is hosting “Water, Water… 8 Strange Days in the City That Never Sleeps,” an exhibition organized by artist Edie Nadelhaft that considers how Hurricane Sandy, the superstorm that devastated the East Coast last fall, affected artists both in terms of their studio situations and their work. I remember watching from the seaside cottage I rent during the academic year as the storm raged, the tide rising over the nearby seawall, stopping short of my back door. The high winds felled several large trees, knocking down power lines and leaving us without electricity for six long days. Many boats broke loose from their moorings and landed on the rocks, but most of the homes in my neighborhood were spared.

Nasty and destructive, the storm prompted me to introduce soaking, tearing, and mending into my work. Nadelhaft has included two pieces featuring these elements in the show, along with work by Matt Enger, Elisa Bates, Ronnie Landfield, Edie Nadelhaft herself, Samantha Keely Smith, Bruce Stiglich, and Austin Thomas.

Our thoughts are with the victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines.

Please come to the opening reception on Thursday, November 14, 2013,  6-8pm. Note that the show is only up for 8 days: Tuesday, November 12, through Tuesday, November 19.

Sharon Butler, Wet on Wet (Hurricane), 2013, pigment, binder, pencil, sewing on unprimed linen tarp, 18 x 24 inches.

LOVE: Robert Indiana's hard-edged visual essays

Guest Contributor Jonathan Stevenson / “Robert Indiana: Beyond Love” at the Whitney unabashedly aims to extricate the artist from the public’s myopic reduction of his body of work to the iconic "LOVE" image of the 1970s. It succeeds in presenting Indiana as a brave, erudite, disciplined artist whose worldview is far more nuanced and dappled than those four letters suggest.

November 7, 2013

IMAGES: Heather Leigh McPherson

Obsessive second-guessing, arguments with herself, and indecision all figure prominently in Heather Leigh McPherson's painting process. A few weeks ago I stopped by her post-industrial-park Providence studio to check out her stunning new series of large-scale paintings.

November 6, 2013

Saltz pens a bad review: Eggerer at Petzel

I recently criticized Jerry Saltz for his group scold of contemporary painters, and today on the Vulture blog Saltz names a name, slamming Thomas Eggerer's show at Petzel:
The second I saw Thomas Eggerer's current large show at Petzel Gallery — the artist's fourth here since 2004—I thought, This overrated art star is way out of gas, going through the motions.

EMAIL: Vancouver (continued)

After reading guest contributor Dion Kliner's post  about Darcy Mann's October exhibition in Vancouver, a reader suggested that we write about what's going on in Vancouver NOW.  "This show is over, closed, fin, stängt, in the past," our grumpy reader wrote. "Arriving in Van I’d like to know what’s here…." So I asked Dion for some recommendations. Here's what he told me:

Vancouver has distinguished itself to the contemporary art world primarily through photoconceptualism (Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, Ian Wallace, Stan Douglas, Ken Lum, Roy Arden, etc.).  Considering how long ago the Vancouver School began developing, it's somewhat strange that Oct 1 - Nov 15 marks Vancouver's first annual Capture Photography Festival. As a result a lot of the galleries are participating and showing photography.    

I'm not endorsing all the exhibitions up right now, but I'd recommend the following galleries as being the most reliable for solid contemporary art in Vancouver.

The Vancouver Art Gallery is Vancouver's version of a museum.  Why it's not called The Vancouver Museum I've never figured out.   

The Contemporary Art Gallery shows local and international artists.  

Equinox has recently moved to and renovated an industrial building in what is a burgeoning gallery neighborhood in Vancouver.  It's the most Dia-esque of Vancouver's galleries; noticeable in its color scheme, and even the reveal at the bottom of the walls.   

Monte Clark shares the same building as Equinox.[Image at top: Alison Yip @ Monte Clark through November 30, 2013]
Catriona Jeffries and Macaulay & Co. Fine Art are close by to Equinox.  At Jeffries expect to see the most Vancouverish of what is considered "Vancouver" art besides photography.  [Image above: Neil Campbell @ Macaulay & Co. Fine Art, through December 14, 2013]

gallery jones has a good photography show opening November 9th.
Republic  [Image above: Lyse Lemieux is represented by Republic. Image courtesy of their website]

The Rennie Collection is a private museum housed in the renovated Wing Sang building, the oldest in Chinatown.  Public viewing is only by reservation and on guided tours, but it's free.  You can reserve a date and time on the Rennie website.  Space and times are limited so it's best to do it as soon as possible.

I hope this helps, Sharon.

Thanks for the intel, Dion. Keep in touch.


Related posts:
Darcy Mann: A tangle of layers (2013)
Ben Reeves: Super-impasto in Vancouver (2008)
Questioning Canadian painting's carte blanche (2008)

November 4, 2013

Darcy Mann: A tangle of layers

Guest contributor: Dion Kliner / Vancouver BC / The German author Goethe wrote, “Men must retire from the world from time to time, for the world with its lewd and superficial activity interferes with the awakening of the best.” The site of that retreat is the wilderness; desert, ocean, but very often forest. Revered when sublime, feared when dark and unknown, mourned when pillaged, forests are the content laden backdrop to our culture. From the time we climbed down from the trees, forests have lain deep in our arboreal ancestry, memories of which are stirred by Darcy Mann's work.

Darcy Mann, Balagan, 2012, oil on canvas, 48 x 54 inches.
Peering into a forest from the outside can trigger the age old response so ingrained in our psyches "don’t go into the forest alone," yet from the British Columbia rain forests of Mann's childhood she knows firsthand that alone inside a forest the anxiety can vanish as the fable-ridden fear is replaced by a sheltering calm.
Interestingly, the effect of her work operates oppositely; from a calm certainty at a distance, to a confused apprehension up close. Standing away from paintings like Balagan and Broohaha, and drawings like 80 Miles Per Hour, they appear clear and defined, giving a convincing illusion of depth; so much so that they look like photographs. On approach, a kind of joyous confusion replaces depth and illusion as one becomes lost in the minutia of Mann's process and material.

Each piece, like its referent from Mann's arboreal wanderings, is a tangle of layers: in the drawings, it’s the soft, rich black solids of charcoal, and the dry, scratchy marks of willow stick; in the paintings, its watery washes and stains, thick impasto, and blank canvas.

Darcy Mann, 80 Miles Per Hour, 2013, charcoal on paper, 32 x 48 inches.
 Some of the materials Mann draws with are the carboniferous remains of forest fires, but this isn't of overriding importance to her. Mann's relationship to her shrubs and trees is frustratingly complex.
"My thinking about this work," she says," is similar to a reporter parachuting in to find
some truth in the aftermath of a situation . A stand of trees or a bush are my pretexts
to draw, nothing more that I can be certain of. Although they come saturated with
descriptive and cultural references, that's not my meaning, it was there when I found
them. Much as it might be hoped for or expected, the images divulge no insight. In fact,
they go far to omit information. Looking at my bushes and trees, there's no way of
telling that somewhere in the back of my mind is a cache of far more poignant images,
images that could lend deeper understanding into despair and longing."
As familiar as representations of forests are, Mann paints the way all original painters do; not looking like anybody else.

Darcy Mann, Broohaha, 2013, oil on canvas, 48 x 54 inches.
"Darcy Mann: Into the Forest," Sidney and Gertrude Zack Gallery, Vancouver, BC. September 12 - October 6, 2013

Related posts:
Elisabeth Condon: Walking in her own landscape (2011)
Landscape girls at Jeff Bailey (2008)