|Peter's Sitters 2 2009 Hurvin Anderson (via Thomas Dane Gallery)|
|Barbershop 2006 Hurvin Anderson (via Thomas Dane Gallery)|
|So Romantic 2009 Grant Hottle (via Half/Dozen)|
I started making comparisons to other paintings I remembered - that maybe at first I could not identify why they were so important to me. I thought of Matthias Weischer, who I first saw at the Life After Death: New Leipzig Paintings from the Rubell Family Collection. That was also the first opportunity I had to see a Neo Rauch, in all his impressiveness, first hand.
|Neujahr 2005 Neo Rauch (via David Zwirner)|
Many years before that, I was impressed with Dana Schutz's neon palette (which never compares in reproductions). In one of her paintings of the fictional character, Frank, his chest becomes just the only gray-ochre flat shape in the painting - an abstract shape taking the same tone and shape as that slump of the chest. Wispy no-no paint marks become grass. In other paintings of hers, like Lovers, these wild strokes of forest green become leaves, camouflage even, for two lovers who share a foot - and a kiss.
I am reminded also of the painter Les Rogers, whose newer works tend to depict figurative spaces but then lead you to the splatter of a mark all in one shape.
Working in an entirely different direction, but with a similar language is the Northwest artist Whiting Tennis. He uses collaged pattern as marks in his paintings. Bitter Lake Compound in the Portland Art Museum is a good example of this.
|Study for Blue Hamburger 2007 Whiting Tennis (via Greg Kucera)|
|Frank in the Dessert 2002 Dana Shutz (via Saatchi)|
Almost any painting seems like it could be identified this way. But I find it especially exciting when a figurative subject can be articulated in this abstract way. What seeing Anderson's paintings made me realize is that I'm only figuring this out myself. After undergrad and years afterward hammering the same ideas home, I've only begun to figuring out that I never was looking at the figurative pieces of a subject...but the shapes, forms and colors.