Since the start of the semester my work has become increasingly abstract, especially considering I had only done one abstract painting in the past. I have become increasingly interested in how form and colour work together, which is why I think my painting has become more abstract recently. I like to work with colours straight out of the tube, as well as mixing own. I am visually stimulated from the contrast between the “pure” out of the tube colours, and the unique colours and washes I mix myself. Furthermore, working on raw canvas (covered with clear gesso) has been a success for me. I prefer how the colours look on raw canvas, compared to on stark white. Leaving parts of the canvas bare in the final product has created depth within my painting, and, for me, is an eye pleasing neutral colour that ties all the forms together nicely. In regards to the forms, some of the shapes are created by water drips, while others are from my imagination. When I am going about my day, I try to pay attention to shapes, opposed to details within objects, which assists me when I am painting forms. I work on all of the painting at once, not focusing on one particular area. By painting like this, I believe it gives the painting more energy. I feel great comfort and stimulation from the process of painting in this manner. For me, the finished painting is quite meditative and therapeutic, with some parts being still, while others having a lot of energy and movement. For me, this work is an escape from the image saturation I experience on a daily basis. We are living in a society that worships images and exact visual representations. It sometimes can be overwhelming the amount of images one consumes, especially with the continuous growth of advertising and the Internet. I feel my painting is a break from this, and I look forward to further exploring painting in this manner.
I cant pay attention for very long so I always find myself working on a new area of a painting before i realize I had actually moved spots. I have a lot of energy and I believe this is carried though in my paintings. Traditionally I have always tried to homogenize my works through increasingly diverse marks that intricately flow between form and color. Since I feel as if I completely understand this process I have jumped into new experiments; doing things such as putting a blatant x over my most successful entries or destroying a perfect painting entirely. I use words and language to my advantage in all of my works, the way I do this is by writing passages on a primed canvas; I would then react to what I had written by abstracting from the letters. It helps to consider the text under painting as a method of triangulating my next move. At this point I am completely sick of this process, I would like to use semiotics and visual language far more blatantly in my next works.
Nick Mauss works at the interstices between drawing, installation, and writing, as a way to generate a passage between mediums, affects, and technique. While visually Mauss’ approach is said to traverse figuration and abstraction, it is more likely that it suggests a third way, a poetics in which these categories become fraught.
Blank spaces and frames reserve areas where images have already been or have yet to appear. The silence of these spaces evokes an anticipation and repression of images which are caught on the surface of the work in a stage of becoming. The blank spaces can only be filled by desire or with bodies – of the viewer confronting the traces of the hand. “Special effects”: flares, blurs, hazes, veils, and blind spots crossing the field of vision emphasize a conflicted access to the congealing picture from within the work as well as from the outside. Yet there is a sense that these various stuttering drawings glancing across different materials are looking for the drawing that is already in the space, “written in the wind”, or in particular gestures and movements.
Recently, Mauss has been working with glaze painted on ceramic tablets. The process-from painting through firing-is necessarily “blind”, as the colors, intensities, and layering transform rather unpredictably. This blindness inserts a gap into painting, which also becomes a way of recording an undecideability of the image, where the delay in time between the making of the mark and its fired visibility allows for a simultaneous immediacy and slowness. As Mauss has said of his drawings, “Weeks, or even years, after beginning a drawing, I might return to it and not recognize it anymore, or know how to relate to what is already there, so then I work with it as something alien. Eventually as the marks cohere on the page, I like the sense that they seem to have been applied from the front and from behind, like a memory that can’t remember.”
At Indipendenza Studio, Mauss presents new works in ceramic, sculpture, and drawings on paper and fabric.
until 12 January, 2013
Images courtesy of Kerlin Gallery, Dublin and Merlin James.
‘…James takes painting’s multiple and overlapping histories partly as his subject matter and partly as a point of departure. The paintings are stylistically promiscuous – it is hard to describe or even imagine a “typical James.” Yet seen together they not only make perfect sense but also articulate something of the infinite freedom and the stubborn vitality of the medium.’
(Matthew Higgs, Art Forum, December 2011.)
In recent years Merlin James has made paintings often on semi-transparent supports, and with picture frames that are integral to the work. These quasi-conventional frames, and the stretcher bar structures partly visible through them, may be fabricated from humble, seemingly salvaged materials, pressed into service as ‘fancy’, high-art objects.
Extending James’s long-standing investigations into the nature of painting, the works continue to feature his particular erotic, topographic, architectural or abstract motifs – images that both function as elements in his aesthetic experiment and build to a poetic account of human experience. Writing in Frieze (November 2011), Ara Merjian notes how in James the environment is presented ‘through a baffle of layers both material and metaphysical’ in work that is ‘stubbornly, mischievously paradoxical’ and that ‘vacillates between the cerebral and the basic stuff of paint’.
James also continues to paint on canvas, frequently using hair, sawdust and other unconventional substances as well as paint. Works may be apparently abstract, or may feature diverse ‘subjects’ – heads, animals, emblematic figures, canals, bridges, skies. Small vernacular buildings of uncertain vintage – mills, homesteads, old factories, tower-blocks – are often scattered through James’ pictures, either as representations in paint or as miniature ‘model’ buildings made from wood off-cuts and fragments and physically incorporated into the work. Expansive spaces are evoked, and the vistas can suggest dream- or memoryscapes, or landscapes seen in passing.
Link: Merlin James at Kerlin
Although I’ve been interested in the technical execution of painting for a majority of my life I have only recently began to become familiar with the formal art world and it’s common practices. In the past two years I have been introduced to an overwhelming amount of concepts within the realm of painting that I was barley aware existed. By leaning about these concepts I have found myself experimentingsemester I have taken an interest in geometric forms, covering, and the spectrum of colour through means of mixing basic colours together. These application techniques combined have helped me develop abstract works in which convey how I feel about not only art, but life in general: Most of my recent works have been reflective of personal and societal frustration with progression, stability, and finality. I attempt to convey this struggle for satisfaction by producing multiple paintings, one on top of another, covering a majority of each painting with a layer of gesso. I then through use of covering hide forms deeming that information it unnecessary to the composition. These forms build atop one another creating a juxtaposition of shapes and colours. I produce multiple paintings to show in collaboration with one other, creating conversation between the pieces about theirsimilarities and differences. The struggle that the paintings endure trying to find them selves within the multiple layers, and multiple paintings, reflects the all too familiar feeling of seeking meaning and stability in life. I recognize that I have barley begun to identify my own practice, and have much to come to terms with before pursuing it in the art world. However these series of experiments have helped me progress greatly since the beginning of the semester. Some artists that I have been introduced to this year which have helped me understand and develop my practice are Sergej Jensen, Robin Bruch, Richard Aldrich, Hans Hoffman, Joshua Neustein, and David Nash. These artists have helped influence my work by providing me with different means of portraying information through both minimalist and abstract techniques.
“I am overwhelmed by White figure representations every time I go to a museum. It is almost universally understood that these images are the foundation of art in the western world.”
Kerry James Marshall
In Who’s Afraid of Red, Black and Green, his first exhibition in Austria, African American artist Kerry James Marshall shows a new 16-part series in which he once again examines the visual representation of black people in “western” society and the pictorial tradition associated with it. The programmatic title points to the show’s linking of the ideas and goals of the Black Power and Civil Rights movements and the abstract color field painting of Barnett Newman.
Marshall’s figurative pictures are characterized by the way they combine an exploration of traditions in western painting with issues and themes related to black identity, visual perception, and their linking in art. For Raél Jero Salley, writing in the catalogue, his works thus represent a “fragile balance between formal rigor and social engagement.”
In terms of form, content, and meaning, Marshall’s Who’s Afraid of Red, Black and Green series refers to Barnett Newman’s Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue, especially the third variation (1966/67) that now hangs in Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. Instead of the primary colors, Marshall chooses the political tricolor of red, black, and green—the colors of the pan-African flag, also known as the Afro-American flag, the Black Liberation Flag, or the UNIA flag. This tricolor, still used as an emblem of Black Power, was designed in 1920 by Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) that was founded in 1914 and which counts as one of the first programmatic movements to emerge from the black population of the United States.
In his pictures, Marshall refers to the aesthetic achievements of color field painting, such as flatness, nuanced planes of color, and the perceptual directness of experiencing large formats. But he also questions the genre’s manifestations of the absolute and the infinite, contrasting this with different forms of representation and figuration. One clear example is provided by his depictions of black people. On the one hand, he explores the materiality of paint in all its subtlety while, on the other, the color “black” refers in both concrete and symbolic terms to political and cultural experiences of “being black”. Marshall: “So the challenges of inscribing notions of ‘blackness’ onto a form hostile to images and indifferent to political particularities was something I wanted to give a try. Throughout the entire exhibition, a Black consciousness fluctuates between overt and subtextual manifestations.”
Another example of the way Marshall plays with colliding levels of meaning is Red (If They Come In The Morning). The direct experience of the red color field is marked by the gradual appearance of the eye-catching words “If They Come In The Morning.” They are taken from an open letter from writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin (1924-1987) to civil rights activist Angela Davis. In the 1960s, Davis was a leading member of the Communist Party. In 1970, she was accused of murder and was only able to prove her innocence after spending 16 months on prison. “For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night,” was the closing line of Baldwin’s letter. In 1971, Davis answered with her book “If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance”. By bringing together the strengths and ideas of his various sources, Marshall turns “the power of color into a power of real social significance,” writes Salley: “In this way, the pictures open up a discourse on upholding the poetic and the sublime beyond any reduction to mere form.”
In the exhibition, the three monumental paintings Red (If They Come in the Morning), Black, and Green hang in the middle of the two side walls and the apse, following the design of the flag and structuring the gallery space. Between them are a further 13 works that reflect and explore this color scheme in various nuances, as well as offering variations of the theme. Like the nude Black Star 2 and The Club, the painting School of Beauty, School of Culture appeals to the self-confidence of black women. It shows a beauty parlor coming under attack from the distorted image of a blond, white girl, Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. The anamorphosis quotes Hans Holbein’s famous painting The Ambassadors, where it represents the ubiquity of death. The portraits of the “Stono Group,” on the other hand, give faces to four 18th-century freedom fighters—people who have previously had little or no place in official historiography because no pictures of them exist.
Black Owned and Buy Black, on the other hand, quote the neon signs used by black shop owners during the riots to protect themselves from attack and to appeal for solidarity, thus pointing to the still inferior economic power of the black population. Finally, with the Robert Johnson Frieze, Kerry James Marshall creates a counterpart to Gustav Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze, which is on permanent display at the Secession. This homage is dedicated to the legendary musician who died young and who Marshall calls “one of the greatest Blues men I’ve ever heard.” In the frieze’s two 15-meter sections, the artist translates the rhythm of blues music, with its typical breaking of symmetries, into a visual idiom. “I think of myself as working in modes,” Marshall says: “Each modality is selected because of how it engages the narrative of art’s history and presents an opportunity to address the nominal presence, or total absence of Black figures in a particular genre of art making.”
All quotations from Kerry James Marshall from an interview with Annette Südbeck, “A move towards freedom or how to generate that sparkle,” exhibition catalogue, Secession 2012.
From Diaz press Release:
|QUID PRO QUO is the latest iteration of Ethics 101, Kennedy’s ongoing series of wall painting installations. This latin phrase is often used to connote a trade of favours and the common English translation is ‘a favour for a favour’. It can be perceived as an assurance of equality, that both parties are benefiting from a transaction, but can also be used to describe darker acts of blackmail or bribery. Kennedy’s site-specific wall paintings have previously utilized ‘Superstar Shadow’, his own variation of the superstarfont type, which is commonly used in American naval and sports cultures. In this painting, QUID PRO QUO, Kennedy uses the typeface ‘Chisel’, which is associated with permanence and monumentality. Kennedy’s bold font choices straddle between abstraction and readability – or art and utility.THE FOUR SEASONS is another critical investigation of art and language. Each of Kennedy’s chipboard paintings is named after one of the four seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. The selection of colours for each ‘season’ is based upon the paint colour’s trademarked name and their associative time of year. For example, ‘Apple Blossom’, ‘Easter Bonnet’ and ‘Green Bud’ evoke visions of spring; ‘Blizzard’, ‘Icy Moat’ and ‘Snow Princess’ are reminiscent of wintery impressions. Garry Neill Kennedy is one of Canada’s most prominent and pioneering contemporary artists. In addition to an extensive international exhibition history, Kennedy has also held the position of president of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design for twenty-three years (1967-1990), establishing NSCAD University as a forerunner in art education. Recently, MIT Press invited Kennedy to author a book, The Last Art College, NSCAD (1968-1978) that chronicles the first ten years of his presidency. He also recently completed the National Gallery of Canada’s publication, Garry Neill Kennedy, Printed Matter, 1971-2009. In 2003, Kennedy was a recipient of the Order of Canada and in 2004, was presented with the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.
Link to show at Diaz http://www.diazcontemporary.ca/Ex2012Kennedy.html
Gary’s work is important to know about. He’s been a very influential person to Canadian contemporary and conceptual art.
Here’s another link: http://www.gallery.ca/en/see/collections/artist.php?iartistid=2877