Archive for February 2009
One of the best photography exhibits recently on display in Seattle was Arthur S. Aubry’s beautifully composed images of various industrial objects. Jen Graves over at The Slog said “no thank you” to “beautifully printed, immaculately composed photographs of colorful, abstracted industrial forms” because the world has far too many of them already, and favored vague images capturing desolate places that eschew any hint of composition, color or gradient of light and darkness. Imagine, a photographer actually having the gall to employ composition, color and printing skill to create a photograph!
Actually, all I see lately are the boring photos Jen raves about. I vote for the former and would advise local galleries to exhibit more photographs and paintings that evidence an artist’s craft. As the art market slides, viewers and collectors want objects that rely more on talent and craft, rather than juvenile conceptual pieces that say nothing of import. I vote for more images like Aubry’s, and quite enjoyed his photographs when I went to view them earlier this week. Aubry’s exhibit came down today. Seattle galleries would do well in this economic climate to exhibit more work based on craft and tried and true artistic tools in the creation of interesting visual images.
My fascination with hyper-realism and photo-realism continues, and Davis Cone is one of the best in terms of technical mastery. What’s distinctive about his work, aside from his chosen subject matter, is his ability to paint scenes at many different times of day and night. His works evidence a very wide range of understanding about light during daytime, and at night. You just have to marvel at his skill and longevity of dedication to the craft of painting.
“For over (30) years, Davis Cone has been single-mindedly pursuing the depiction of Art Deco movie theaters. Though definable as a Photo-Realist, Cone came a generation after Photo-Realism made its mark, and his concerns are slightly different. His paintings are not translations into paint of a single photograph. The crisp details throughout the pictures are a result of a photographic way of looking, but the paintings have more of a sensation of air and light than do most color photographs.” Vincent Katz, Art in America, March 1999.
My favorite, favorite, favorite painter right now is Patti Oleon. Her rich, visually succulent paintings are a sight to behold, not only for their stunning imagery and high contrast of lights and darks, but also the veneer of their painted surface. This is what painting is at it’s best. The physicality of their painted surface should be a delight for anyone, but most of all for painters who love the process of creating paintings.
Oleon’s nostalgic paintings touch on memory, time and the illusion of captured imagery. Their seductiveness is unparalleled in contemporary painting. In a statement Oleon writes that her imagery is of “liminal environment(s), suggesting that even the most lucid presentation of facts is distorted, incomplete, provisional.” Her work utilizes photographs of “hotel lobbies, period rooms in museums, spaces contrived to look habitable but resolutely lacking human presence” which suggest places within memory, that evaporate with time. These stylized places transcend geographic location, that can’t be found on Google Earth or some GPS device, and seem more like a stage perhaps for some Stanley Kubrick purgatory or publicly ceremonial function.
Oleon’s work denies much of the history of Modern Art painting in the twentieth century, as if it never existed. These paintings make Clement Greenburg and the whole New York School over the past sixty or so years seem childish, despite their claims to high art and mysticism. These are the works that should be documenting the history of American civilization in the early twenty-first century, not the works being exhibited in the Whitney Biennials of the last couple of years. Ours is a dark, highly stylized age, it’s citizens perceiving some American identity that no longer exists, while they look back trying to reclaim that which only resides in memory and can never return. This is painting at it’s very best, if you ask me. Indeed, Patti Oleon is one of the best painters in America right now.
English Kills Art Gallery in Brooklyn has some fantastic paintings by Andrew Piedilato on exhibit until February 15. Two Coats of Paint gave a brief glimpse of the works earlier in January. In the midst of the art world’s economic downturn, it’s exciting to see a fresh painter exhibited. Unique, new paintings make the world seem exuberant. Memo to Seattle art galleries, please get this guy an exhibit in town.
The most obvious aspect to his paintings is their exceptionally large size, often seven or eight feet square. Piedilato’s paintings contain quirky, amusing imagery along with a painterly abstraction. In the midst of our time when painting is frequently considered dead, or if not dead then at least a failure at communicating anything of importance to society, works like Andy’s remind everyone about the vitality painting can have in the service of an individualistic vision. The works seem like an accumulation of various marks made in prior art movements, although they’re certainly his own. They’re not quite post-modern; they’re whatever has come after post-modernism. Allusions to Philip Guston, Julian Schnabel, Tony Scherman, and perhaps others as well seems to form a subtext to the paintings. The various marks and painted motifs make for some fun and at times nonsensical paintings with a bit of a kick to them. I asked Andy a few things about his work, and here’s what he said:
I saw on your bio that you are originally from Georgia. How did you decide to move to New York?