Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sarah McKenzie's paintings look at the phenomena of suburban expansion. Her site is worth checking out - and scrolling to some of the later paintings of suburban neighborhoods. They are clearly images of these residential places, but the combination of a larger scale and aerial viewpoints cause them to read as abstractions.

From her artist's statement: "The generic forms of suburban architecture provide a convenient framework through which I explore the basic structures and issues of geometric abstraction -- stripes, grids, flatness vs. depth, color relativity, and so forth... At this point, my work is only minimally about suburbia. Tract homes and strip malls provide the fodder for the paintings and help to place them in a specific cultural moment in time, but the work is ultimately about paint and the nature of pictures. To the extent that my paintings still comment on suburbia, it is through the moments of visual rupture... which may be interpreted as revealing cracks in the suburban American dream."

Sarah McKenzie

Build Up (2005)
Oil on Canvas

Monday, December 22, 2008

Interior, Strandgade 30, by Vilhelm Hammershoi (Danish)

Going back in history a bit - to the work of Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershoi. I just recently came across his work and quite possibly have found a new "favorite" to add to the list. He is not as well known, but his paintings feel like a merging of Vermeer and Andrew Wyeth. His best known works are interior domestic scenes, often with a female (usually his wife) with her back to the viewer. Very understated, yet intimate. The focal point almost always seems to reside on the back of her neck. This kind of "reverse portraiture" is a very contemporary move considering the time in which he was painting.

From Wikipedia: "Hammershoi's paintings are best described as muted in tone. He refrained from employing bright colors (except in his very early academic works), opting always for a limited palette consisting of grays, as well as desaturated yellows, greens, and other dark hues. The overall impression of his style is one of coolness, restraint, and quietude. His tableaux of figures turned away from the viewer project an air of slight tension and mystery..."

Hammershoi Images on Google

Vilhelm Hammershøi, Interior, Strandgade 30, 1908 (oil on canvas, 79 x 66 cm)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Edge of the Ring, by Andrew Haines

Andrew Haines is a painter I came across a year ago or so. I appreciate his sensitivity to the banality of the everyday. This is from a portion of his artist's statement:

"Observing the tedious details of the every day built environment, I revel in subjects that my aesthetic training originally taught me to hate. Tracking the motion of the sun over a suburban strip mall, vinyl clad housing, or the ubiquitous chain link fence; my subject is frequently a visual irritation that I pass everyday. Working with the pest, I usually manage to eke out some kind of beauty, even if satire or derision were the original intent."

Andrew Haines Paintings

The Edge of the Ring, by Andrew Haines (2006)
Acrylic on panel
16" x 18"

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monument, by Jeff Eisenburg

Monument, by Jeff Eisenburg (2008)
Graphite on paper
11" x 16"

Jeff Eisenburg's Drawings

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Two by Robert Indermaur

I stumbled across of a book of Robert Indermaur's paintings a few years ago and still find him to be one of the art world's best kept (figurative painter) secrets. His work is playful and loose. The characters are usually involved in some ambiguous narrative, often involving looming architecture. And while they often don't appear to be the most intelligent - they do appear to be happy. Happy and dumb.

Robert Indermaur's Paintings

Nischengasse/Schaufenster, by Robert Indermaur (Swiss)
Oil on canvas (2007)
180cm x 180cm

Uberflieger, by Robert Indermaur (Swiss)
Oil on canvas (2005)
180cm x 250cm

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"They Journey," by Michael Borremans (2002)

Michael Borremans
The Journey
17,0 x 24,7 cm
pencil, watercolor, white and black ink, varnish on book cover

Michael Borreman's work

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Friday: 6 Down. Former Nigerian capital (5), by Ben McLaughlin (2008)

Ben McLaughlin is one of my favorite painters. He is not very well known - and at first seems to paint relatively benign images. Most of his work is very small, 4 or 5 inches in size. The images are of seemingly unimportant places - sometimes they have a muted narrative. His titles are often pulled from crossword puzzle instructions or random headlines in the local paper (completely unrelated to the images themselves). There seems to be a sense of simultaneity in these paintings - that even as this elevator door remains closed, someone is figuring out the Former Nigerian capitol which contains five letters...

Ben McLaughlin's Paintings

Friday: 6 Down. Former Nigerian capital (5), by Ben McLaughlin
Oil on panel (2008)
4.5" x 6.75"


Untitled, by Ben McLaughlin
Oil on panel (2008)
4.5" x 6.75"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Three Men at Dawn, by Odd Nerdrum (1996)

Odd Nerdrum is... "odd." He is a rare contemporary artist in that he holds to an old masters approach to painting, in the tradition of Rembrandt, yet many find his images to be disturbing in their subject matter (the one below is tame by comparison to his other works). He is a storyteller, often depicting individuals involved in strange narratives in post-apocalyptic settings.

Three Men at Dawn, by Odd Nerdrum (1996)
Oil on Canvas - 61" x 73.2"

Friday, October 10, 2008

When Faith Moves Mountains, by Francis Alys (2002)

Documentation of an event in Lima, Peru orchestrated by the artist involving 500 volunteers equipped with shovels and asked to form a single line in order to displace by 10 cm a 500 m long sand dune from its original position.

Francis Alys is an artist that crosses mediums and often "performs" events that range from epic collaborations involving many people to single, simple actions that he documents with a handheld camcorder. He describes much of his work as "poetic gesture."

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fontis, by Betsy Stewart (2007)

Each box: 5"x5"x5"
Acrylic and Sumi Ink on wood

I've just recently discovered Betsy Stewart's work. One of the things I appreciate is how she seems to literally "build" a painting, creating a sculptural object that projects itself off of the wall and into the viewer's space. In person, we would be drawn into looking at these paintings from every angle. Her work could be defined as a kind of abstracted "landscape." However, the effect is that of being able to go to microscopic level of nature, then retrieving a "cross-section" sample of nature for us to study. If you go to her website and look up some of her other works, you'll find this same approach to studying nature, but in the form of totems and other vertical, sometimes free-standing columns.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Falling Bough, by Walton Ford (2002)

Watercolor, gouache, ink and pencil on paper,
60 3/4 x 119 1/2 inches

Walton Ford images on Google

Walton Ford creates large-scale watercolor paintings that build upon the history of Audubon wildlife illustration. However, Ford's portrayals of nature are not simply taxidermic - something to be safely observed under glass or in a biology textbook. In his work, nature turns on us - it unleashes it's chaotic energy in an often disturbing violence. It resists containment and classification even as it uses the tools of classification in its depiction (many of his works have a small script at the bottom identifying the species being portrayed).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Quiz, by Neo Rauch

I'm attaching three paintings by a German artist named Neo Rauch. Why three? Because he is one of the more important contemporary painters living today. He is working out of a Post-Berlin-Wall, post-industrial German context. His figures are listless and often have a defeated, yet plodding-along look to them. The "work" his characters are involved in seems determined, yet borders on absurdity. His color palette is intentionally off-putting as is his distortion of proportion, creating an ambiguous tension in the paintings.

Neo Rauch's works

Oil on linen
98.43 x 82.68 inches

Schmerz, by Neo Rauch

Oil on canvas
106.3 x 82.68 inches

Neue Rollen, by Neo Rauch

diptych; each oil on canvas
106.3 x 165.35 in.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008