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a blog of painting, abstraction, and contemporary art
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Collaging the figure

I went to the figure drawing session in our studio last night. I plopped down on the floor with a newspaper, a pile of construction paper, and my box of crayons 64 colours. This is some of what I did in a couple of hours. All based on the two models of course!

figure collage 1

figure collage 2

figure collage 3

figure collage 4

figure collage 5

figure collage 6

figure collage 7

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May 26, 2011   1 Comment

Abstraction is a language rooted in the practice of assembling and composing fragments -Arturo Herrara

Abstract artist Arturo Herrara discusses work and process in this great video posted over on Art:21

Arturo Herrera / Come / 2008 / Collage, mixed media, graphite on paper / Triptych, each part 79.72 x 57.09 inches (202.5 x 145 cm) / sikkemajenkinsco.com

Arturo Herrera / Come / 2008 / Collage, mixed media, graphite on paper / Triptych, each part 79.72 x 57.09 inches (202.5 x 145 cm) / sikkemajenkinsco.com


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May 8, 2009   No Comments

Winter Landscape Collage – Elaine De Kooning

 Elaine de Kooning: Winter Landscape Collage (via artnet.com)

Elaine de Kooning: Winter Landscape Collage (via artnet.com)

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April 24, 2009   No Comments

Duston Spear

Duston Spear / MONSTERS NIGHT / Collaged oil paintings, work clothes, spray paint, wax on canvas / 67 X 76 inches / 2008 / Sara Tecchia Roma Gallery

Duston Spear / MONSTERS NIGHT / Collaged oil paintings, work clothes, spray paint, wax on canvas / 67 X 76 inches / 2008 / Sara Tecchia Roma Gallery

Duston Spear’s most recent series of paintings, ‘Rorschach Tales’ will make up her third solo exhibition with STRNY (September – October 2009). In these works Spear has combined the applied graffiti of ‘Read’,(2005), with the iconic imagery of ‘Delivered’, (2007) and added the narrative intent of Japanese scroll paintings to assemble a codex of fictional battles. Miniature warriors fill the flattened scene charging on yellow grounds, the thin blue horizon line marks the ageless conflict below. The center of each canvas is dominated by a Rorschach-like form filled with her old paint clothes stenciled with words that are unreadable in this palimpsest incarnation. Tiny figures are curved out of cut up paintings and collaged onto the surface- horses rear, bulls race across the stage, archers toss their painted arrows, battalions of warriors shoot spray paint from their rifles at the unknown Rorschachian thing that stales the armies. The scene is frozen in it’s activity, the site is abstract in its figuration. {Read More…}

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November 13, 2008   No Comments

Judith Godwin Early Abstractions

Judith Godwin

Judith Godwin Early Abstractions
September 3, 2008 – January 4, 2009, Tobin Theatre Arts Gallery, Brown Gallery, www.mcnayart.org

The earliest paintings in the show resemble cell structures, with graphic black lines defining the interlocking forms within a matrix of colors that seem to refer to cubism. Another early work, “Nucleus IV,” contains references to the nude figure. “Male Study” and “Woman” are more complex arrangements that resemble early de Kooning. But more neutral space became a key part of her style when she began to experiment with pours and stains, such as “Ode to Kenzo,” which introduces an element of Asian minimalism.

Gradually, her style becomes looser, more painterly and more dramatic. “Purple Mountain” has a peak punching through the top of the picture plane, with the landscape defined by broad, dark brushstrokes. “Night” and “Blue Storm” use dark blues and blacks with accents of gold and brown to suggest the fierce energy of nature. “Black Cross” features a soaring black cross with a broken arm.

A few of the strongest works deal more with psychological states, such as “Longing.” More horizontal paintings with dramatic dark blotches against a white background such as “Into the Depth” and “Maze” seem to be maps of the artist’s subconscious, with dark, violent emotions pushing and pulling against a curtain of light. In these later paintings, Godwin pared down color and emphasized dramatic brush marks.

However, as Sims explains in his essay, while Godwin’s early work seemed to avoid anything that can be described as feminine, her more recent work has more womanly touches — introducing collage elements, such as black sequins and ribbons set into the pigments, and using rounder, more organic shapes. She also uses lighter colors. {Read More…}

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November 12, 2008   No Comments

cecily brown @ gagosian

Cecily Brown / Untitled (#38) / 2007 / Oil on linen / 12-1/2 x 17 inches (31.8 x 43.2 cm) / www.gagosian.com

Cecily Brown / Untitled (#38) / 2007 / Oil on linen / 12-1/2 x 17 inches (31.8 x 43.2 cm) / www.gagosian.com

A number of people have been asking lately why I haven’t posted anything recently. The answer is that I have been meaning to, but I’ve just been super busy and the blog has gotten the short end. Anyway….

I’ve been down to Gagosian a few times over the last couple of weeks to see the Cecily Brown show. The first time I went I was impressed with the work but something bothered me and I couldn’t figure out what it was. After going back and spending a good amount of time looking at the work and being in the space I realized the problem, the lighting in the gallery kills the drama of the paintings. It is just too bright in the gallery to really enter into the paintings. The drama of her paintings is in the swelling volumes and the internal character of the light she creates. The bright lighting of the gallery illuminates the dark areas, renders visible all the brush strokes, and the reflected light off the white walls of the gallery overwhelms the light areas of the canvas. The overall effect is to flatten the canvas into a collage of energetic brushstrokes with color.

This actually struck me when I was looking at some of the smaller canvases in the show. Looking at these works I could really see the connection to Rubens, Tintoretto, El Greco, both in the compositional structure and the swelling weightless forms hovering and suspended in space. I also began thinking about how those paintings were painted for candlelit cathedrals and castles. How the dim lighting of the space really elevated the drama of the darks and lights, allowing the swelling figures to really explode out of the canvas. When I turned around to look at the larger works in the show, especially the Sam Mere series, I really felt like I was missing something.

I’ve often read Cecily Brown’s work compared to De Kooning’s, and while they both engage in figurative abstraction, I think it will be interesting to examine their approaches over the next few days to see how differently they put paintings together. In the meantime, definitely check out the show.

Cecily Brown @ Gagosian, September 20 – October 25, 2008, 555 West 24th Street

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October 6, 2008   1 Comment

Trump @ Reeves

Doug Trump / Choice / 2008 / oil, pencil, collage, ink, on canvas / 65 x 72 inches
Doug Trump / Choice / 2008 / oil, pencil, collage, ink, on canvas / 65 x 72 inches / Reeves Contemporary

I spent time at Reeves Contemporary Gallery yesterday and was impressed with the abstract paintings of Doug Trump. His work actually touches on a few of the issues I brought up in my piece about craft, I could see areas where the oil paint, laid on over ink or acrylic was cracking, but that does not take away from his work in the least. I plan on going back a few more times before the show closes. His transparent colors, hiding and revealing shapes forms and gestures, create quiet compelling spacial shifts and rhythms that are a visual treat. I’ll come back to this later….In the meantime, here’s what the gallery has to say:

Doug Trump’s newest oil paintings employ rich, industrial color and collaged surfaces, punctuated by gestural marks in pencil, ink, and charcoal. The artist continues over-painting, sanding back painted layers and then obscuring the surface again with new color fields, a process giving Trump’s works their complexity and depth. While the artist’s process remains consistent, the work no longer focuses upon a unified, balanced composition, but rather prizes expressionism as manifested through color and brushstroke. He is allowing his own energy – and thus the energy in the paintings – to jump from one area to another, without qualifying it, without constraining it within a preconceived or determined canvas. Through this spontaneous yet measured approach, Trump allows the paintings to breath in their own vitality. Ultimately, Trump is creating paintings with agitation and friction. For the viewer, there is ample room to move into the work, and receive its kinetic energy.

Doug Trump is on view at Reeves Contemporary, 534 w. 24th Street, through May 24th.

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April 30, 2008   No Comments

Stan Brakhage – Water for Maya

Stan Brakhage – Water for Maya

From Wikipedia:

Stan Brakhage (January 14, 1933 – March 9, 2003) was an American non-narrative filmmaker. He is regarded as one of the most important experimental filmmakers of the 20th century. He worked with various kinds of celluloid: 16mm, 8mm, 35mm, and IMAX, and was a practitioner of what he referred to as “pure cinema”.

Brakhage’s films are usually silent and lack a story, being more analogous to visual poetry than to prose story-telling. He often referred to them as “visual music” or “moving visual thinking.” His films range in length from just a few seconds to several hours, but most last between two or three minutes and one hour. He frequently hand-painted the film or scratched the image directly into the film emulsion, and sometimes used collage techniques. For Mothlight (1963), for example, he taped moth wings, twigs, and leaves onto clear film and made prints from it. In the 1960s and 1970s especially, his life with his first wife Jane and their five children was frequently shown, though in a fragmented and interior way rather than as documentation.

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April 14, 2008   No Comments

after cecille (or my kid can do that)

gordon fraser, after cecille, prismacolor, www.gordonfraserfinearts.com
after cecille / prismacolor / 5″ x 6″
© 2007 gordon fraser. all rights reserved. www.gordonfraserfinearts.com

I posted the above drawing to a drawing forum on artreview.com and received a number of replies from the impassioned defense, to the legitimate questioning, to the ridiculous dismissal/panning by the court jester who’s now out rummaging through his kids nursery school art projects in the hopes of getting rich. I then posted the following reply. [see the whole conversation here...]

Byron, Alaleh and Jonathan all raise some interesting questions, establishment vs. anti-establishment, abstraction vs. realism, illustration, decoration, basically the stuff we as artists (an the non-artists critics) have been tangling with for the last 150 years! I started to jot down some notes and realized I have a lot to say about all of them. At this point I will have to sidebar those discussions to a different forum so as not to take away from the art being shown here. That being said, given that this is “Show and Tell” I will offer a few comments. For the purpose of the discussion I will try to separate formal questions from questions of content, but in reality in the process of drawing, the concerns interpenetrate and cannot be separated. First, in terms of content, this painting is about desire, pretty straight forward establishment content going back hundreds/thousands of years, so to byron’s point I do not view this piece as anti-establishment. It is a question/conversation/meditation I have been engaged with for about six months and it offers one viewpoint among many. The brief history is that this project began as 5 minute poses in the studio with a clothed model, who happens to be a dancer, over a two week period back in october. The initial studio sketches were executed in watercolour and I have carried on this work in oil, watercolour, collage, and prismacolor pencils, using both the sketches and memory of some poses as inspiration. This is one example.

Now to the more formal issues:
1) Mark making – I have used gestural marks and scribbles to convey the energy and excitement of desire, which often can feel uncontrollable and overwhelming when it is being experience.

2) colour – the dominant colour of the piece is red, chosen first off because the model has red hair and there was red fabric hanging on the wall behind where the model was posing. I then pushed and changed the hue, layering different reds (which unfortunately can’t be seen so well on the computer screen) in order to develop a sense of the warmth, heat, and excitement of desire. The red moves very quickly toward the viewer and allows me to pull the background right to the surface, compressing the space of whole composition. Secondarily, the two blue planes sandwich and squeeze the red plane, creating a dynamic tension and opening up the space of the composition.

3) composition – the compositional structure is very simple, built on a tilted plane, stolen from the italian masters such as Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, etc., to provide a dynamic structure to both house and convey energy and excitement. It helps create the movement and space in the drawing.

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March 28, 2008   No Comments