Saturday, June 17, 2017

Henri Hayden

I was reading through a monograph on a favorite painter, Mary Fedden, recently where Henri Hayden's work was mentioned this way:  "to domesticate the language of heroic cubism and bring it into a private conversation of familiar things."  

I thought that was so exactly what I love in many of the painter's work I love and also work I find overlooked at times.  Its not always cubism, but some larger consideration or movement of painting -- color, space, shape etc.  brought up against the intimate world of personal life and objects.  Bonnard dealing with post impressionist questions of color, Biala dealing modernist ideas of flattening the picture plane, Morandi's plastic concerns for placement, volumes and illusion.  To work out these things in the often dismissed subject matter of grapes and vases is such a feat, and a radical pleasure to behold them as a viewer.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Frame Work at Ortega Y Gasset

from left: George Rush, Jennifer Packer, Aubrey Levinthal

I'm home from Ireland and decompressing my thoughts on that. In the meantime, fab curator and painter Lauren Whearty put together a group show Frame Work at Ortega Y Gasset which opened June 3.  The good news is there is a closing reception too, scheduled for July 15th.  

She also put a digital adaptation of the show up at Curating Contemporary here.  

from left: Jason Mones, Jennifer Packer

I'm really looking forward to seeing the show in person.  Here's the press release:

Ortega y Gasset Projects is pleased to present Frame Work, a group exhibition of paintings curated by our newest Co-Director, Lauren Whearty. Artists in this exhibition include: Aubrey Levinthal, Kelly McRaven, Dustin Metz, Jason Mones, Jennifer Packer, Eleanor K. Ray and George Rush. 

The act of painting a window-view is an unabashed celebration of the best of painting. Time, materiality, subjectivity, are all present within the narratives. There are few subjects more traditional to painting, and yet it has endless possibilities. A painting of a view outwards can carry with it a multitude of meaning, emotion, and visual/tactile pleasures. Most of all it is a dialogue with the practice of painting, image making, and our practice of painting on (for the most part) a window frame stretched with canvas. 

Leon Battista Alberti asked his audience to perceive the painting, and its underlying structure, as a window itself. This 15th Century metaphor may seem antiquated, yet these artists show us that within this concept there is so much potential. Within Frame Work these settings range from those based on memory, to those directly observed, to inventions and reconstructions of ideal or imagined spaces.

Each artist works through this motif in order to dig deeper into their own practice. Kelly McRaven’s employs physical divisions as a way to use many styles or variations within one painting, while Jennifer Packer’s careful insertion of breath into each painting displays her touch and hints of air movement. Jason Mones employs narration in a figurative way, while George Rush implies it through much more subtle means. Dustin Metz and Aubrey Levinthal flirt with more gestural abstraction through their use of tactile experimentation and Eleanor Ray navigates memory through use of the grid and color to evoke light’s ethereal, emotional and temperature qualities.

When we approach a window and its frame, we look through rather than “at” it. The experience of a painting is a look into and through the surface, beyond the obvious, which allows for painterly metaphor, for any number of our experiences and reflections. These opportunities are what allow painting to transport us as artists and viewers. When looking “at” a painting one does not just look at the image, but into the painting - the surface, the actions and gestures of the painter - and into the content of the image and materials. The layers of space, textures, and framing are undeniably a painter’s language.

Kelly McRaven