Monday, December 13

Go Where? Trying to be Good

Go Where? 2009 Jeffar Khaldi (via Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde)
One of the best ways a work of art can be good is when your experience with it reflects, in stages, exactly how it must have felt to make. I tend to respond to paintings that reveal the fun in their construction, the intensity, some heartbreak, labor, risk, confusion and ultimately, some sort of satisfying discovery.

I like to see a painting that shows off how effortlessly it was constructed but yet humbles itself in areas that could have been painstaking. Another words: triumphant and full of ego, but deserving of that confidence.

An artist a friend works for claims to have spent a good decade hiding and making bad work. And the kind of painting I am talking about is as a result of that hard work. It appears so unabashedly effortless because that fluidity has probably taken a short lifetime.

Seeing Jeffar Khaldi's paintings made me think of that. They also immediately remind me of Neo Rauch for the same reasons. Khaldi's subject matter is serious but not stodgy (unlike the NYT Book Review's Top Ten of 2010 which was a complete disappointment). I admire paintings like this because they don't take themselves seriously and that's an important point for me to learn with my own work.

Semi-Related: Chuck Klosterman interviews Jonathan Franzen who makes a good point about authenticity, "Inauthentic people are obsessed with authenticity".

And Klosterman is on a roll lately, with a great totally unrelated article about zombie onslaughts.

Thursday, December 9

Grant Hottle: So Domestic

So Majestic 2010 Grant Hottle (via Half/Dozen Gallery)
When seeing the Grant Hottle exhibit, So Domestic at Half/Dozen, my first thought is how well his paintings manage a large scale, especially knowing the artist works in a cramped space.

Cramped Apartment 2010 Grant Hottle (via Half/Dozen)
Even in Cramped Apartment, that Hottle admits, "is the kind of space I find myself in most of the time. My home is full of art, books, tables - stuff. It's lived in...I wanted it to feel closed in and cluttered like my studio", it's painted in a way that uses it's size - a painting of stacked objects in a tight space but painted so that it reads from 10 feet away.

Looking closer you'll find that most of his paintings are deeply layered and reveal strokes perhaps not bigger than an inch. And perhaps this is what attracts me most to Hottle's work: the ability to articulate tangible, modern compositions relying on traditional color, shapes and elements.

Yes there is the strokey, and the electric color palette - but everything holds together as that first believable idea. Hottle's paintings are a lot about realness:
The term 'real' is so subjective. I've been thinking about this specifically in the relation to the home because in moving from place to place, the space I think of as my home bleeds from one structure to the next. So where is my real home? Is it where I am now or where I am from? Isn't it a construction of both?...the greenhouse in So Domestic only exists in the context of this painting. It was never a direct observation or photograph of a place you could walk into. It is a construction, but is no less real for being so.
For complete images and discussions with the artist, visit the Half/Dozen Gallery website.Or visit KBOO's Art Focus for discussion with Half/Dozen's Timothy Mahan and artist, Grant Hottle.

Tuesday, December 7

Finding Patience: The Trees Through the Forest

Untitled (Red Dresses) 2010 Stephan P. Ferreira

Detail from Untitled (Red Dresses) 2010
Stephan P. Ferreira
When I finish a painting I often have a hard time seeing the whole. I'm stuck on details or the overall language of the painting.

I've labored so much over how I've articulated the imagery that trying to decipher any meaning is the same experience as trying to figure out what a word means after it has been repeated over and over: the word looses it's context, it looks foreign and suddenly you can't even remember if those letters are arranged correctly.

Having been so wrapped up in the painting I can only see the trees in the forest, as it were. It takes stepping away to eventually see the bigger picture. But before then, it's usually these small areas in my paintings that teach me and prompt me to do something else.

A recently completed painting based on a Depression era photograph got me thinking about what changes need to be made in my own process and what the successes in my work tell me about my focus and patience.