Artist Gary Stephan, whose new drawings will be exhibited this fall at Devening Projects + Editions in Chicago, is doing the best work of his life.
The rigorous parameters that Sylvia Plimack Mangold established in her earlier bodies of work (the floor paintings and the landscapes framed by “tape”) continue to inform her paintings of individual trees (specifically the maple, elm, locust, and pink oak), which have been focus of her attention since the early 1980s. Year after year, in different seasons and subtly changing light, the artist has returned to the same handful of subjects seen from the same tightly cropped viewpoint.
Rembrandt’s “Portrait of the Artist” (ca. 1663–65) from Kenwood House, London, just landed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a seven-week run.
There are a number of things that distinguish Zak Prekop, who was born in 1979, from other young painters. The most important one is that he hasn’t turned what he does into a style or, in today’s parlance, a brand consisting of signature gestures. For while he has developed a method of making based on collage and optical disturbance, he has kept his options open. He embraces both the literal and the fictive as well as intertwines them in ways that are assured and compelling.
In the 1990s, Fabian Marcaccio coined the word “paintant” by fusing “painting” and “mutant.” In his “paintants,” he would sometimes carve and expose the stretcher bars. He worked on burlap and fabric. He used photographic images and applied various mediums to digitally printed surfaces. His materials included oil paint, silicone, acrylics and sand. He made relief-like brushstrokes out of silicon and attached them to the surface of his work. Sometimes they extended out onto the wall, like an extra limb. They were neither natural nor artificial, but a hybrid combination.
The large paintings in Glenn Goldberg’s recent exhibition are part of a series collectively titled Elixir. They are half as tall as they are wide. “Eighth Elixir” (2011) is less than four feet tall and over seven feet wide, but most are slightly less than three feet high and five feet wide. Done in acrylic and ink on pale gray, gessoed grounds, the paintings have an undulating visual hum to them — think Philip Glass and Terry Riley —which is both soothing and disconcerting. This is because Goldberg effectively meshes two palettes on a gray ground — one is black and white, while the other consists of muted, often transparent colors ranging from near primaries to turquoise and violet.
I met Simon Gouverneur in the late 1980s, when I gave a lecture at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Something that I talked about that afternoon prompted him to introduce himself — I am guessing it was Wifredo Lam. We sat in a drab conference room. For the rest of the afternoon, before I caught a train back to New York, he and I wandered through dangerous territory, which was the problematic relationship between art and race. He was happy to speak to someone who was sympathetic to his quarrel with multiculturalism, and its ideas of essentialism and who shared his interest in visionary art and painters such as Piet Mondrian and Alfred Jensen.
The other day, at a small cocktail party, a literary agent told me that he liked writers who knew and wrote for their audience. Our conversation soon sputtered out because I didn’t see any value in disagreeing with him. A few minutes later, a writer confided that he would keep working on a manuscript only if he could morally, ethically and esthetically justify what he was doing. For each of them the work itself could never be justification enough. It had to appeal to a larger power.
I set out with the intention of seeing these shows, so I wouldn’t call it synchronicity, but the simultaneous exhibitions of David Goerk and Martha Clippinger in the same building, just one floor apart, did get me thinking about art making that is concerned with the realm between painting and sculpture — from della Robbia’s bas reliefs to early modernism (Hans Arp) to contemporary art (Stuart Arends, Ellsworth Kelly, Jim Lee, and Richard Tuttle).
BOONE, NORTH CAROLINA — The Rembrandt in America show at the North Carolina Museum of Art is the largest Rembrandt show ever staged in America, containing 47 works.
In October I had the opportunity to go to the opening of Tour and Trance, Matt Blackwell’s exhibition at the Edward Thorp Gallery. It’s a strange animated narrative that contains a whole cast of characters experiencing events and simultaneously forming and disintegrating in one moment. That evening we had some conversations on his life and thoughts and the stories that came out felt like some of the missing puzzle pieces. So, we began a conversation. I realized, I didn’t want to ask him the details behind specific pieces or anything detailed in general. I wanted to ask him vague open questions with a lot of room for rambling so we could meander around in his thought process the way his paintings meander around this weird world.
When I finally started reading about the Occupy Wall Street encampment in the mainstream media I was stunned by how late, and how dismissive it was. After several visits, I found myself wondering how to participate; as a painter, I am always at once feeling a part of and outside of things, and this was no different. And yet my sympathies were strong and my anger at the media coverage was growing.