December 17, 2014, 10:51am
Out-loud laughter is not usually something you hear at a paintings show, particularly one inside of a museum. However, this is the reaction I saw over and over again, as I stood among Portland artist Ralph Pugay’s (NAP #97, #115) paintings, at the Seattle Art Museum. Filling a small but highly trafficked gallery that was wedged between exhibits of glass and of traditional nineteenth and twentieth century American art, the artist’s small canvases excelled at catching people off guard. The flattened, cartoonish scenes captured the eyes of people en route to another space, who would wander towards them with looks of befuddlement. The point at which the artist’s frank titles, absurdities and language games began to sink in was the moment the laughter began.— Erin Langner, Seattle contributor
December 15, 2014, 3:36pm
As I write this, it has been a busy couple of weeks for the medium of painting. I just returned from my annual trip to art world summer camp, aka Art Basel Miami Beach, where thousands of art-hungry viewers were inundated with paintings of every conceivable scale, media, and subject matter. Some were good, some were bad, many were derivative, and most will be forgotten before the decade ends. On the heels of the various fairs closing, critic and curator Christian Viveros-Faune unleashed a caustic and much passed-around article about art fairs and their negative effect on the type of art currently being produced. He specifically targeted what he calls Zombie Painting, which he identifies as a bland and toothless sort of abstraction that seems to be all the rage. (Jerry Saltz has been beating this same drum for quite a while.)
Meanwhile, in the high temple of modernism––New York’s Museum of Modern Art––curator and past New American Paintings juror Laura Hoptman has just opened The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World. The exhibition features the work of seventeen painters, including Joe Bradley, Matt Connors, Mark Grotjahn, and the young and controversial phenom Oscar Murillo, and is the institution’s first serious group show on painting in a number of years. Most of the artists in this show are art market favorites, so stay tuned as the critical writing on this exhibition is sure to be a roller coaster ride. - Steven Zevitas, Editor & Publisher, New American Paintings
December 09, 2014, 8:39am
I never expected to fall for a painting hung inside an alt-weekly newspaper box. Not even terribly visible through the residual scratches that coated the aging plastic, Emily Gherard’s painting of a stout, yellow mass caught my eye like the passing visage of someone I used to know. Printed on the cover of Seattle’s newspaper, The Stranger, on the occasion of her nomination for the publication’s annual Genius Awards, I had seen the artist’s work before, in galleries, where all of their subtleties of texture and layering could be rightfully appreciated. However, the unlikely humanness the artist imbues into her distinctly non-human subjects of walls and rocks played particularly well with this banged-up, human-sized metal box, living out in the world. Enshrouding Gherard’s jagged, gentle jewel, the box’s own human qualities became similarly more pronounced—its stalwart, weatherproof air of permanence that stands against its quiet shame of rusting irrelevance. Not surprisingly, transforming banal entities into breathing beings is an intricate, intuitive process, as I found out when I recently caught up with the artist to talk about her current and upcoming projects. — Erin Langner, Seattle contributor
December 04, 2014, 9:47am
In a strong showing, Austin-based artist Bethany Johnson’s (NAP #108) recent exhibition Field Notes at Moody Gallery in Houston explores her affinity for natural sciences and is a continuation of her interests in the “study of systems and the visual representation of information.” Field Notes is comprised of a variety of complex drawings detailing landscapes–both familiar and unfamiliar–that immediately call to mind a more electronic or mechanical means of production including computer printouts, maps, scans or 3D renderings. –Claude Smith, Albuquerque/Santa Fe Contributor
December 03, 2014, 9:52am
The art market is really a miracle of evolution…it is a machine…and all this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks. Like a shark, if it stops moving forward it will quickly die. To prevent this from happening, the art market has become exceedingly good at generating and packaging the next best thing. In the old days critics and curators thought long and hard about visual culture and classified periods of time and groups of artists accordingly. These days things are moving much too quickly. We used to think in terms of –isms, but now we become briefly aware of trends.
At any given time there are numerous trends flowing through the art world. Of all the stakeholders, it is perhaps not surprising that dealers value their emergence the most. After all, there is great marketing leverage when an artist can be attached to something greater than his or her own individual practice. Collectors love trends to. It makes things super easy. Just look for something that people are excited about and buy anything that kind of looks like it. I see plenty of this in my art dealer life...these "collectors" typically have much better ears than eyes.
NICOLAS DESHAYES |Vein Section (or a cave painting), 2014, vitreous enamel on steel, powder-coated aluminum frame, 33 1/10 × 23 3/5 × 1 3/5 in, Courtesy of Jonathan Viner.
Of all the trends that will be on display in Miami this week, one strikes me as particularly pervasive: process-based painting. And one fair has more of it then any other: the ultra hip Nada Miami Art Fair. Even a cursory look at what treasures the fair will hold quickly reveals that an overwhelming amount work that belongs to the same family. Moreover, this work is spread across the stables of a wide swath of galleries. When looking at it, descriptives that come to mind include: abstract, anti-compositional, vintage, distant, cool, decorative, seductive, all-over, photographic, entropic, pattern, digital, repetitive, patina and processed. Artists that come to mind: Polke, Oehlen, Wool and Guyton.
There is no doubt that abstract painting has been the most exhibited art form over the past decade, and it has come in a variety of brands. Lately, there seem to be more and more artists who are defining their practice not so much with a specific subject or style, but by the way in which their work is made. Bleach, printing technologies, fire extinguishers, photographic chemicals, the sun and more have been deployed in the service of aesthetic advancement. The results are varied. Artists such as Hugh Scott Douglas and Sam Moyer, both of whom are on view at Miami Basel, are making substantial work and truly pushing the discourse forward. Many others are finding their way.
For those of you in Miami this week i will be curious to hear what you think. Are we witnessing the birth of Process-ism, or simply being offered this season’s hottest trend? - Steven Zevitas, Publisher
December 02, 2014, 9:06am
Quilts and monsters would seem to have little to do with one another. Were it not for Seattle artist Whiting Tennis’s show of that title at Greg Kucera Gallery, I doubt the two would have ever come together in my mind. Inside the gallery, the quilt-inspired works stand across the space from the monsters, the two sets of paintings occupying opposing walls, making it seem as though they should be considered separate entities. Spending time among their equally weathered palettes, their rigid, fragmented subjects and their unlikely overlaps, however, I only became more convinced that quilts and monsters do, in fact, belong together.—Erin Langner, Seattle contributor
November 30, 2014, 6:20pm
As I have said many times, one of the great joys of publishing New American Paintings is following the careers of our alumni. We do so assiduously and bring updates to our readership through the publication and on-line via the New American Paintings/BLOG. Part of the publication’s raison d’etre is to give our readership the type of inside information that allows them to discover artistic talent before it emerges. Whether it is an artist such as Matthew Day Jackson, who was featured in 2001 while still earning his MFA, or Evan Nesbit, who was featured in 2012 only months before Roberts & Tilton picked him up, we have time and time again offered savvy collectors the chance to be there first.
It is no secret that art fairs are driving much of the art market these days, and, like everything in life, the art fair system has a pecking order. At the top of the mountain is Art Basel, and its sister fair, Basel Miami Beach. For all intents and purposes, galleries that are included in this fair have “made it,” and the artists they present there are having their work exposed to thousands of collectors, art world professionals, and art enthusiasts. For these lucky artists, it is a very big deal that can launch careers and push already thriving ones to the next level.
Every year we scour the rosters of the various fairs set to open in Miami in search of NAP alumni who will be on view. As in the past, the various satellite fairs will include dozens of them. This year, however, we are excited to see that no less then 30 NAP alumni will be featured at the Big Show: 2014 Basel Miami Beach. A sample of them are listed below, many of whom are now internationally known. Our congratulations go out to all of them. See you in Miami. - Steven Zevitas, Publisher
November 30, 2014, 12:02pm
It is Miami time again. I spent the last few weeks prepping for my own gallery’s presentation (UNTITLED, Booth #A04), and finally had a chance to peruse what is happening at the various fairs that will be scattered throughout the city. At the top of the heap is, of course, the fair that started them all: Art Basel Miami Beach. Over the next few days, two hundred and fifty + galleries representing thousands of artists will be busy installing their booths in preparation for next Wednesday’s Private Viewing. With the contemporary art market continuing to race along a break-neck speeds, all indications are that it will be another successful year for all involved.
I spent a few hours visiting various sites on-line to get the lay of the land. With very few exceptions I focused on emerging/mid-career artists…I mean, we all know what an Anish Kapoor looks like at this point. The list below is made up of artists and work that I am particularly excited to see next week. Enjoy the list. - Steven Zevitas, Publisher
November 19, 2014, 9:30am
There has been a lot of talk as of late about the receding importance of brick and mortar gallery spaces and a perceived dearth of quality programming at those that still exist. While the internet and the general ease of global communication are sited as causes, the rise of the art fair is most often blamed for the trend. I did not see a lot of evidence of gallery Armageddon as I conducted my monthly review of painting shows. Even on the eve of art world spring break (aka Miami art fair week), dozens of commercial spaces around the country are mounting first-rate solo and group exhibitions.
New American Paintings’ alumni look great this month. In Chicago, one of the city’s most interesting emerging artists, Dan Gunn, has new abstract work at Monique Meloche, as does Terence Hannum at Guest Spot in Baltimore and Seth Adelsberger at ltd los angeles. In New Orleans, Havana-born local legend Luis Cruz Azaceta looks good at Arthur Roger Gallery. My own gallery in Boston has been taken over by the great Franklin Evans, who is presenting new paintings in the context of a floor to ceiling installation. Former New York City dealer, and all around great guy, Jeff Bailey, has relocated to Hudson, NY, where, this month, he is presenting work by University of Iowa Professor and painters’ painter, John Dilg. In the City, Sarah McEneaney continues to blow me away with her suite of hard won new paintings at Tibor de Nagy (Be sure to read Roberta Smith’s review of the show in the New York Times.)
I want to give a special shout out to one of my favorite emerging artists, Jaqueline Cedar, who has four new large-scale paintings at Gallery 106 Green in Brooklyn. I first did a studio visit with her when she was finishing her B.F.A. at UCLA, and she was already a skilled painter. She subsequently attended Columbia and since graduating in 2009 has only gotten stronger and stronger as time goes by.
Some of the many strong solo exhibitions around the country this month include: Angelbert Metoyer at Deborah Colton Gallery in Houston; Donald Moffett at Lora Reynolds Gallery in Austin; a beautiful show of figurative works on paper by New York School founding member Jack Tworkov at Valerie Carberry Gallery in Chicago; Brian Bress at Cherry and Martin and a major show of new work by Jonas Wood in David Kordansky’s cavernous new gallery space, both in Los Angeles; and Whiting Tennis at Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle. As usual, New York City is brimming over with strong shows. Top among them for me are: Bill Traylor at Betty Cunningham Gallery; Lily Ludlow at CANADA; Alexander Ross at David Nolan Gallery; Sean Landers at Petzel; R.H. Quaytman at Gladstone Gallery; Ridley Howard at Koenig & Clinton; Huguette Caland at Lombard Freid Gallery; Gladys Nilsson at Garth Greenan Gallery; Kara Walker at Sikkema Jenkins & Co.; and be sure to catch the work of emerging artist Ted Gahl in a project room show soon to open at Zach Feuer.
I am a huge fan of well-conceived group exhibitions of which there are a number around the country this month. Two in particular caught my eye, not only because they are well curated, but because, as a pair, they effectively speak to disparate, but vital tendencies within the realm of painting. In Los Angeles, Overduin & Co. presents “Seven Reeds,” a group exhibition that includes an international cast of five of the most talked about emerging artists on the planet – including Jacob Kassay, Julia Rommel and Fredrik Vaerslev - each of whom are pushing abstraction to new places. On the opposite coast in Brooklyn, The Journal Gallery has just opened “The Great Figure.” In this show six artists working in a figurative mode – including Dana Schutz, Henry Taylor and past NAP cover artist Keith Mayerson – demonstrate how the oldest of subject matters can, in the right hands, be as relevant as ever. - Steven Zevitas, Publisher
November 13, 2014, 11:28am
Apply now to our Southern Competition if you live in states: AL, AR, DC, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV. For more information visit the competitions page of our website. Good luck!
Juror: Dominic Molon, Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art, RISD Museum of Art
Deadline: December 31st, 2014