May 3, 2016

Studio visit: Elizabeth Hazan in DUMBO

Recently I got to check out Elizabeth Hazan's glowing new abstractions--lyrical paintings that reference the landscape of her childhood--at her DUMBO studio. We talked about her process, color strategies, surfaces, and what it was like growing up with notable New York School painters Jane Freilicher and Joe Hazan as parents. They divided their time between Manhattan and Water Mill, a town on the eastern end of Long Island where the farms and open fields that were so familiar to Hazan have begun to disappear.

Two Coats of Paint: You have a lot of new work! I'm struck by your excellent eye for color relationships. Tell me about the color choices and your process.
Elizabeth Hazan: When I originally started painting abstractly, I intentionally reduced my palette. At that point I was painting trees, largely from photographs and I loved the emulsion. I started doing ink drawings-- isolating sections, pixelating spots, and painting them. It wasn’t a conscious move away from representation at all, more that I followed where the work took me. I looked a lot at Mondrian, making the work more geometric. As much as I tried to be reductive, I was producing very busy pictures. The ones in which I tried to tamp down my natural exuberance were pretty dull, I have to admit. This was 2007-10, I had an idea that I would use seven or eight colors, like a music scale, like jazz variations. They were bright, but they were limited in terms of the palette. I’ve been thinking a lot about editing, how learning to edit your own pictures is a hallmark of making more mature work. Some people, like Alex Katz apparently are born with the eye for it. It’s something artists have in common with writers, how much of the work is in the editing.

[Image at top: Elizabeth Hazan, Jamaica Bay, 2016, oil on canvas, 47 x 50 inches.]

May 1, 2016

Amy Lincoln’s twilight zone

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Luminous, though an overused adjective in art writing, is an apt one for Amy Lincoln’s edgy new paintings mainly of plants, on display at Morgan Lehman in Chelsea. Their vivid color, exacting line, and exotic detail leap out at the viewer, so that the initial impression is straightforwardly Rousseau-esque, maybe with a nod to earnest Regionalist and Symbolist landscape painters. Her work isn’t merely gorgeous or wistful. She imparts to her paintings an arch, expansive ambivalence that gives them depth, mystery, and a little darkness.

[Image at top: Amy Lincoln, Pink Caladium, 2016, acrylic on panel, 20 x 16 inches.]

April 29, 2016

Alicia Gibson: The awkward early years

I'm squeamish about revisiting all the sketchbooks and journals from my early years, when I had no idea what art was about but still had a peculiar desire to be an artist. Like Gerhard Richter and Jasper Johns, I'm inclined to take a box cutter to the oldest work and toss it in a dumpster. Alicia Gibson, a 36-year-old artist who graduated from Hunter's MFA program in 2009, on the other hand, has used all of her old composition books, sketches, and diaries as fodder for a new series of raucous paintings, on display at Canada through May 1.

[Image at top: Alicia Gibson, Summer Sublet, 2013, oil on panel, 20 x 30 inches.]

April 28, 2016

Robert Yoder: How stories became paintings

Notwithstanding his striking show "JAME6," currently at Frosch & Portmann, Robert Yoder told me he had been angry and depressed last year and that painting didn't help. "So I collaborated on short stories instead," he wrote in a recent email from his homebase in Seattle where he runs SEASON. "Writing seemed like a better way to get some ideas out. In these stories I can get to the core of the idea I've been working with in the studio." An interview with writer Derek McCormack struck a cord. "He says things about growing up way better than I can. I grew up in the south and 'came of age' during the early 80’s in a very conservative area. Signs and symbols (from clothing, music, etc.) took on another layer of meaning for me."

[Image at top:Robert Yoder, JAME6 Buckeye, 2016, oil on cotton and polyester tee shirt,50 x 28 inches]

April 26, 2016

The gap between: "Unfinished" at the Met Breuer

In recent years, artists have been interested in “slippage.” In painting, that often translates into an exploration of the space between abstraction and representation, or between two and three dimensions. “Unfinished,” the inaugural show at the Met Breuer, examines another important area – the gap between finished and unfinished.

[Image at top: Juan Gris (Spanish, Madrid 1887–1927 Boulogne-sur-Seine), Woman Reading, ca. 1927, oil and pencil on canvas. Gris said he liked the freedom and charm of unfinished work, but he didn't consider this one finished--he simply stopped working on it when "his health began to fail."]

April 21, 2016

Quick study

This week I've got links to articles about the Venice Biennale,  art blogging grants, James Franco, the trilogy of Samuel Beckett plays at NYU, Margie Livingston, project proposal deadline, Prince, and a $50 Stock Club for artists...

Great choice! Mark Bradford will represent the US at the next Venice Biennale, which opens May 2017. Image at top: Mark Bradford, Sexy Cash (2013), in the collection of the Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University, the sponsoring institution for the United States pavilion. Read more.  

April 20, 2016

Rachel Beach and Julia Gleich: Strength and precarious balance

Pairing artists with choreographers often produces transcendent results, and it has a venerable tradition—Robert Rauschenberg and Merce Cunningham, for instance. Earlier this month, I was fortunate to get tickets to see Counterpointe, a collaborative series developed by Norte Maar that joined seven female artists with seven female choreographers. Fusing the art community and the dance community not only triggered new ideas--it also expanded their audiences, and all three performances at Brooklyn’s Actors Fund Arts Center were sold out. Curious about the collaborative process, I asked one pair of participants, choreographer Julia Gleich and artist Rachel Beach, to tell me how their fluid and witty dance "Immovable" was composed.

[Image at top: Julia Gleich and Rachel Beach in Beach's Greenpoint studio.]

April 17, 2016

Raoul De Keyser: The loss of certainty

"Drift," the sublime Raoul De Keyser exhibition on view at David Zwirner through April 23, was organized around a group of 22 small paintings known as The Last Wall. Completed shortly before his death in October 2012, they are hung in the gallery exactly as De Keyser had installed them on the wall of his Deinze, Belgium, studio. The title, coined posthumously for a 2014 book about the series [Jef Van Eynde, Raoul De Keyser: The Last Wall (Ghent: MER. Paper Kunsthalle, 2014)], is a poignant reminder that studio practice for each of us will eventually end. Curator Ulrich Loock wrote an excellent essay for the beautiful catalogue, published by David Zwirner Books, about the relationship of these final paintings to the rest of De Keyser's work, and I am delighted to publish an excerpt:

April 16, 2016

Record Store Day: Amy Feldman, Thurston Moore, and Frank Rosaly

Artists often contribute artwork for album and CD covers--something listeners don't get when they download music files from the Internet. Recently, Thurston Moore and Frank Rosaly used Amy Feldman's paintings on their project, Marshmallow Moon Decorum. According to the Corbett vs. Dempsey website:
Guitar hero Thurston Moore and improvising drummer Frank Rosaly met for a first encounter in 2012 at the Neon Marshmallow Festival, at the Burlington in Rosaly's hometown, Chicago. The results were monumental. The slow build of Moore's gigantosaur sound and Rosaly's clamorousness and gradually escalating propulsion made for an idea match over the course of an electrifying 35-minute piece, the thunderous conclusion of which left no ear unburned. Marshmallow Moon Decorum presents the full concert in all its glory, gorgeously rendered in a multi-track recording that captures both the grit and grace of their mutual ascent. The cover sports a painting by Amy Feldman, perfect visual foil for the boys and their noise.
The painting on the cover (pictured above) is Feldman's Moon Decorum, acrylic on canvas, 79 x 79 inches. Since today is Record Store Day, why not add to your art collection by picking up some albums and CDs at your local record store? Or order this one from Corbett vs. Dempsey, a Chicago gallery that also has a record label.

Related posts:
Amy Feldman: Practiced and rehearsed
SNAPS: Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation Open Studios


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Painting Picks: Lower East Side

If you have time to see some exhibitions in New York, here are a few promising shows to check out on the Lower East Side, which Casey Lesser recently called NYC's most important art district in an Artsy editorial post. "Galleries in the neighborhood have matured greatly, as has the art they present," she writes. "And Lower East Side stereotypes (hole-in-the-wall spaces, unknown artists with half-baked ideas) have been soundly dispelled." No doubt the many seasoned gallerists in the neighborhood and the artists who show with them will be relieved to have won the approval of Lesser, formerly the Lead Cashier at J. Crew, according to her LinkedIn profile. But she might consider the fact that sometimes hole-in-the-wall spaces and unknown artists--of which there are still a few on the LES--are the most interesting and adventurous ones, and nascent ideas lead to groundbreaking work. In case you can't make it IRL, links to the gallery websites are provided.
Image at top: Regina Rex / 21 Madison/ / "So Much, So Little, All at Once" opens today, with Nancy Azara, Melissa Brown (Image at top), Mike Cloud, Britta Deardorff, Paul DeMuro, EJ Hauser, Erin Lee Jones, Mike Olin, Adrianne Rubenstein, Clintel Steed, Ana Wieder-Blank / Apr 16 - May 22, 2016 

April 11, 2016

Art and Film: War and art’s uneasy survival

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Russian director Alexander Sokurov’s Francofonia is a strange and intriguing film – a kind of avant-garde point-of-view documentary. Do not mistake the title for “Francophilia.” With considerable snideness and mockery – including magical realist interventions by a fatuous Napoleon, sardonic intonements of “liberté, egalité, faternité,” and a deadpan delineation of France’s choreographed wartime collaboration – Sokurov sets up The Louvre and the cooperative Nazi-French preservation of its collection during Germany’s occupation of France as emblematic of France's experience of World War II. The point might extend, if attenuatedly, to Europe in general.

April 10, 2016

Newness: Melissa Meyer at Lennon, Weinberg

When artists experiment with a new medium or process, audaciously moving from one that they’ve fully mastered to less familiar territory, new ideas often emerge that inform their work in unexpected ways. So it is with Melissa Meyer’s compelling new paintings at Lennon, Weinberg.

[Image at top: Melissa Meyer, Twosome Too, 2016, oil on canvas, diptych, 40 x 60 inches.]

April 8, 2016

Two Coats of Paint Resident Artist: Danielle Mysliwiec

Update: Danielle arrived yesterday.  Danielle Mysliwiec, assistant professor in the art department at American University, has arrived for a seven-day artist's residency at Two Coats of Paint. Mysliewiec is no stranger to New York. She earned her MFA at Hunter, had a solo show in 2015 at Novella Gallery, and has been in recent group shows at Transmitter and Mixed Greens. Her monochromatic paintings feature densely woven threads of paint that remind me of the chain mail from the Arms and Armor Collection at the Met. I asked her via email about her plans for the residency.

[Image at top: Danielle Mysliwiec in her DC-area studio.]

April 7, 2016

10 ideas and influences: Joy Garnett

Joy Garnett is an artist and writer who, for the past ten years has served as the arts editor at Cultural Politics, a contemporary culture, politics and media journal published by Duke University Press. She also publishes the venerable art blog NEWSgrist. On the occasion of her solo exhibition of new paintings at Slag Gallery in Bushwick, I invited Garnett to put together a list of the things that she's been thinking about.

[Image at Top: Fig 1: NY Studio (1990). I like this photograph of me and my furry friend. Here we are, collaborating on a backdrop for a theatre troupe. It was my first New York studio out of grad school and it had a lot of light and a big cage of doves. It smelled of cats.]

Jonas Lund update, 2016 edition

In 2014 Jonas Lund (born 1984, Linköping, Sweden) created a project called Flip City whereby he put tracking devices on generic-looking (i.e., Zombie Formalist) abstract paintings and logged their locations into an online database. Well, two years later, Lund is still ruminating on the art market. At Miart in Milan this week, his installation for Steve Turner will incorporate live-streaming video, digital paintings, video sculpture, and text-based enamel signs that critique the art fair model while still qualifying as product. The phrase "have your cake and eat it, too" comes to mind.

[Image at top: Jonas Lund, Early Blue Chip 3, 2016, enamel sign, 34 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches.]

April 6, 2016

Quick study

A few articles this week caught my eye: an interview with Joe Bradley, a piece on a "new Rembrandt" in Amsterdam, the dirt on Trump's art collection, Ray Johnson's eight-year correspondence with Rauschenberg in the MoMA PS1 archives, a dissertation on Duchamp, and commentary on Lily Stockman's abstractions in LA.

Observer reporter (and artist) Ryan Steadman interviews Joe Bradley on the occasion of "KRASDALE," his first solo show at Gagosian. "We set a date for this show in September. I really sort of just locked myself in a room and did it. It was kind of a thrilling show to make because it’s unfamiliar territory, and I didn’t really have any idea of what it was going to look like when I began. I made some decisions about scale and material. I knew that I wanted to work with a brush [laughs]... Yeah the paintings from the last 5 years or so have been almost closer to drawing really and also—[looks to the left]—that one is going in the incinerator…Yeah, you know sometimes something just doesn’t work. I don’t know, something about it doesn’t feel correct…" Read more.

[Image at top: "Joe Bradley: KRASDALE," installation view at Gagosian. Photo by Rob McKeever]

April 4, 2016

Catalogue essay: Raphael Rubinstein on Gary Stephan

Raphael Rubinstein originally wrote this essay for Gary Stephan's solo exhibition, on view through April 23, 2016, at Susan Inglett. / Some paintings pick arguments with art history. Some paintings pick arguments with their materials. Some paintings pick arguments with the other paintings around them in the artist’s studio. Some paintings pick arguments with the world at large. All these types of argumentative artworks can be incredibly engaging, and many of history’s masterpieces can be found among their number, but for me there is one particular type of argumentative painting that is the most stimulating, the most rewarding, the most exemplary: the painting that picks an argument with itself, and at the present moment it’s hard to think of another painter who exemplifies this kind of painting better than Gary Stephan.

[Image at top: Gary Stephan, Abednego, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 20 inches.]

April 2, 2016

Sam Jablon: Between seeing and reading

Guest contributor Adam Henry / Painter-poet Sam Jablon is poised to open a double show in April occupying both Freight + Volume’s downtown gallery and their experimental uptown space called Arts + Leisure. I first met Sam at a group discussion on painting’s possibilities at the home of Saul Ostrow. We quickly exchanged studio visits and have an ongoing dialog about text, language, and the interesting complications that occur when they are used in painting. Most text that we encounter on a daily basis is hyper designed. Through the process of painting Jablon works to challenge these conventions; his work has a rawness that seems anti-designed. The paintings are slow reads in our fast paced world- this is both rare and appealing. I often find learning how painters think is as interesting as what they think. I was curious about Sam’s decisions, process, and his work’s history. We conducted this interview as he prepared for his upcoming exhibition “Life is Fine." 

[Image at top: Sam Jablon, Fine as Wine, 2016, acrylic and mirror on wood panel, 96 x 72 inches.

April 1, 2016

Deborah Brown: Restless exuberance

Deborah Brown’s virtuoso paintings feature rich color and tangled, looping brushstrokes that slip and slide. They embody restless exuberance. An insatiable and prolific painter, Brown over the last few years has turned her attention to art history: Classical and Baroque sculpture and 18th century paintings--particularly the court portraits of Velazquez and Goya. If the portraits that inspired this body of work exude quiet authority, Brown’s characters--their gooey faces captured in mid-expression by way of a raised eyebrow, a curled lip, a sideways glance, or a scaffold-like hat that threatens to collapse--seem giddy and unstable.

[Image at top: Deborah Brown, Grandee, 2014, oil on canvas, 24 x 16 inches.]

March 30, 2016

Laurie Fendrich: How critical thinking sabotages painting

"Painting is a medium in which the mind can actualize itself; it is a medium of thought. Thus painting, like music, tends to become its own content." — Robert Motherwell

Guest contributor Laurie Fendrich / During the two and a half decades I was a full-time painting professor before retiring in 2014, followed by the year and a half I spent as a visiting artist at two prominent art schools, I observed dramatic shifts in ideas about teaching painting. Professors of my ilk see painting as a hands-on art form best learned through looking at great paintings and at painters in action, and by painting while being coached. The new pedagogy has been endorsed mostly by younger painting professors but a few geezers too, who see painting as best learned through critical thinking, a method borrowed from literature and the social sciences.

[Image at top: Laurie Fendrich, Loose Talk, 2014, oil on canvas, 38 x 36 inches.]