Apr 272024
 

“Pale Rider”, 2019, Oil on canvas

The large painting above is from Srijohn Chowdhury’s 2019 exhibition, A Divine Dance, at Anat Ebgi in Los Angeles.

From the gallery-

Srijon Chowdhury’s paintings are characterized by moody symbolist compositions of richly colored floral and domestic settings. He conjures poetic and allegorical narratives through the use of myth, memory, and repetition.

Pale Rider, the largest painting in the exhibition, depicts an angelic woman with flowing hair riding horseback; its monumental scale envelopes viewers in a mystical narrative. The rider appears translucent and wields a scythe as she moves across a meadow of blooming flowers—an allusion to death and birth. In the foreground, there is a fence composed from a poem by William Blake titled “A Divine Image” that Chowdhury has turned into a sigil—an ancient practice of transforming pictorial text into a symbol that is considered to have magical powers. The poem speaks about destructive abstracts of human nature: cruelty, jealousy, terror, and secrecy.

Chowdhury’s work confronts universal physical and emotional themes. Soft aura of moonlight, glow of flowers, and dancing flames invite quiet contemplation. He sensitively vacillates between despair and hopelessness at the human condition, while brightening at joy, beauty, and hope that like flowers, life will go on.

 

Apr 052024
 

This mural, by @elpinchegogo, @denseinthehead, @keefaura, and @eder_one, was spotted in 2019 outside the A+D Museum in downtown Los Angeles.

Eder Cetina (eder_one) also runs Wilson Cetina Group, which has worked on numerous artistic projects for various organizations and museums.

Mar 152024
 

“Northern Lights”, 1959, oil on linen

“Untitled (Near the Cove)”, c. 1958, oil on linen

“Fresh Air”, c.1958-1962, oil on canvas

Although better known for her figurative paintings, Jane Freilicher also created several large abstract paintings which were on view last year at Kasmin gallery in NYC.  The paintings hint at a recognizable landscape, but through her use of color and energetic brush strokes she evokes the feeling of being immersed in the beauty of nature- without the boundaries of a more realistic representation.

From the gallery about the work-

The exhibition presents a group of paintings in degrees of abstraction, realized by Freilicher between 1958 and 1962, a period of great inventiveness when the artist was spending stretches of time in Long Island but had yet to establish a studio there. The series marks a crucial moment of discovery and focus for Freilicher, who went on to integrate the freedom, fluidity, and confidence developed during this period into her more recognizable still lifes and landscapes of later decades.

Freilicher’s abstractions have their roots in observation, informed by her studies with legendary abstract painter Hans Hofmann at his schools in New York and Provincetown. In this group of paintings, pastoral landscapes from Water Mill, Long Island, are translated through the lens of the artist’s memory into confident gestural compositions defined by their use of color and sensitive depiction of light. In a 2006 interview for The New York Sun, the artist tells writer Jennifer Samet of this evolutionary moment in her practice: “I remember being overwhelmed by aqueous light and the obliteration of the horizon by fog.” Freilicher’s palette returns repeatedly here to a combination of off-white and light blue, rendered in loose brushwork across an expansive pictorial space to give a palpable impression of the airy, open landscape of the country.

Breaking out of the domestic scale necessitated by previous studio spaces, this generative period saw Freilicher regularly visiting Water Mill and then returning to her Manhattan studio where she would collapse the formal elements of the rural and coastal environments into energetic, improvisational paintings that were significantly larger than her earlier works. While approaching pure abstraction, the paintings from this period retain a compositional recognition of their ordering principles—the horizon line, a boat’s mast, the position of the sun in the sky, and, in the artist’s words, “long vistas of clouds and water.”

The metamorphosis of landscapes that figure prominently in the artist’s life are representative of, as Roberta Smith identified in 2006, “a more personal, grounded version of Color Field painting.” This observation bridges Freilicher to a loose group of contemporaries whose considerations of their immediate environments brought great warmth and aliveness to varying shades of abstraction—Milton Avery, Etel Adnan, Joan Mitchell, Agnes Martin, and Willem de Kooning (whose own abstract landscapes inspired by his time on Long Island went on view at Sidney Janis Gallery in 1959).

Mar 082024
 

“Valentine”, 2022, oil on linen

“Braid”, 2022, oil on linen

“Braid”, 2022, oil on linen (detail)

The two colorful paintings above are from Andrea Belag’s 2023 solo exhibition, Currents, at Bienvenu Steinberg & J in New York.

From the gallery’s press release-

Since the 1990s, Belag has constantly modified her approach to abstraction through various transitions and mutations. Her internal genealogy matters as much as her relationship to a tradition of abstraction. In the words of artist and critic Julian Kreimer: “it’s not hard to metaphorize those traces, lines left behind by larger swaths of paint that were wiped away, lines whose own shifting colors reveal how they are made by what they’ve touched and changed. But as with so many of Belag’s paintings, the point isn’t to nail down the metaphors (…) Belag’s work becomes an edge condition for painting without flirting with minimalist near-nothingness; it tests out where beauty can emerge, and what we can get to work. It opens up from a few wiped shapes into a sophisticated object able to transport one into a reverie about slippage, slipping away, the here and not hereness of life, death, and the varieties of love”.

Geometry and order have progressively given place to swirling swaths of color, solidity replaced by suspended motion. Painting is an all consuming action. She paints standing up, leaning over and often walking around the canvas placed horizontally. It starts with the arm and as she walks around the canvas her whole body gets involved. Transparent colors on the surface are not fixed and can create form or dissolve into light. She rubs, smudges, and scraps to create translucent, softly luminous surfaces where the brushwork is strikingly visible. “My paintings are contemporary because I paint in the here and now. It’s unavoidable. The artists I feel indebted to are Henri Matisse, Mary Heilmann, Joan Mitchell, Gerhard Richter, Bill Traylor, and Japanese Zen gardens. Style is a dead-end, but I have a point of view. I love transparency and the touch of materials, so I have created a way of painting where I make this possible. I use mostly transparent pigments and fine linen, and I paint wet into wet. The marks are on one layer of the painted surface with very little overlap or pentimento. Color makes space and light come through the paint and emotion comes through as well. There is fear and desire in painting, and that’s addictive. Haptics are the touchstones.” (Andrea Belag, 2023)

Her current solo exhibition, Twombly’s Green, opened this week at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects.

From their press release-

This grouping of work is, as the title suggests, inspired by Belag’s recollection of Cy Twombly’s use of the color Hooker’s green in his “Pond Paintings.” She writes-

These paintings are inspired by my memory of Twombly’s green and white paintings that I first saw in the Menil Collection in Houston in 2015. I was stunned by his paint handling and his use of Hooker’s Green.

Since then, I learned he painted quickly and directly with his hands. Discovering the “Pond Paintings” was unexpected and I kept thinking about them. Hooker’s green is opaque and dark. But the dark value doesn’t overwhelm the hue. Instead, there is richness and depth without a trace of yellow.

When I identified the pigment and started to paint with it, I felt a vibration. There was a time when painting with green was taboo and now it is ubiquitous.

Is green in the zeitgeist?

All painted within the last twelve months, these works are a continuation of the artist’s practice of lush, energetic abstraction. Playing with circularity in an ongoing attempt to “get away from the grid,” Belag uses color as forms in space, bodies set in motion. Citing foundational inspirations in Matisse and Guston, who she later studied with at the New York Studio School, Belag’s work can also be related to vanguard practitioners of 80s abstraction such as Bill Jensen, David Reed and Mary Heilmann. Her immediate peers Christopher Wool and Joyce Pensato are also compass points in the stripped down dedication to raw painterly brio they share.

This exhibition is on view until 4/13/24.

 

Mar 012024
 

This mural is by NYC artist Chris Stain and was spotted in Bushwick, Brooklyn in 2020. It is part of Bushwick Collective’s ongoing street art project.

For Chris Stain’s most recent work, check out his Instagram.

Feb 232024
 

Wadsworth A. Jarrell’s Revolutionary (Angela Davis), 1971, spotted at Brooklyn Museum in 2020, is based off of a photograph of the activist.  The colorful painting includes words from her speeches and actual bullet cartridges.

From the museum about the work-

Wadsworth Jarrell’s Revolutionary (Angela Davis) is one of the most recognized paintings associated with the Black Arts Movement, a cultural manifestation of the Black Power Movement. Artists of this movement sought to create uplifting images that called upon Black people to harness their collective power. The power of communal action is here expressed through a chromatic swirl of individual colors that coalesce into a unified image of the radical activist and intellectual Angela Davis. Davis’s militant clothing—complete with bullet cartridges—was modeled after the Revolutionary Suit designed by artist Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth’s wife. An icon of Black Power, Davis continues to lead the prison abolition movement today.

Jarrell, along with his wife, is part of the African American artist collective AFRICOBRA, formed in Chicago in 1968.

Below is part of a statement about the group from their website by another of the founders, Gerald Williams.

AFRICOBRA began very loosely in 1968 as an association of visual artists. We decided to commit our selves to the collective exploration, development, and perpetuation of an approach to image making which would reflect and project the moods, attitudes, and sensibilities of African Americans independent of the technical and aesthetic strictures of Euro-centric modalities.  Jeff Donaldson, who spearheaded the movement,Wadsworth Jarrell, Jae Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu, and myself, Gerald Williams opened the lid on what we called AFRICOBRA – African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists.  It was an original name that came to identify our place within the broader context of Black art.

Our mission was to encapsulate the quintessential features of African-American consciousness and world view as reflected in real time 1968 terms.  For months, beginning as early as 1967, we examined and talked about the forms of expression and images produced by previous generations of artists.  We came to the realization that there was not the existence of a consistent, unequivocal, uniquely Black aesthetic in visual arts as there was in other disciplines, notably music and dance. Many of our contemporary artists, at the time, generally said that they “were artists who happened to be black”, or held the view that their work was expressing universal ideas or concepts that were not tied to such a narrow category as Black art.   The notion of an intrinsically Black view point, expressed in characteristically “Black ways”  was a relatively alien idea for the most part.  That notion begged the question as to whether it was possible to create a style or approach to art that at its core could be identified as African-American or Black, notwithstanding  the presence of Black imagery or subject matter.  If imagery and subject matter were the sole criteria then the question was moot.  One could conclude, thereby, that Winslow Homer or any number of artists produced Black art when they painted Black images.  After numerous brain storming sessions where such topics were discussed, after test projects and critiques,  the five of us mapped out the core principles that became the foundation of AFRICOBRA.

 

Feb 162024
 

Gentle Ladies Dragon Man, 2021, (Acrylic and graphite on canvas) by Jason Fox was part of the group show Time-Slip at Petzel Gallery in New York in 2021.

Feb 092024
 

This sculpture, The Only Other, 2021, by the artist Midabi, was located in Union Square Park in NYC from June 2021- June 2022.

It is currently located adjacent to Palm Springs Art Museum in California.

Jan 262024
 

Paintings by Tim Wilson from his 2023 solo exhibition, Pictures Aside, at Nathalie Karg gallery in NYC.

From the press release-

“Everything is deceptive, only the mask never lies.”
—Pierre de Marivaux

On the surface, Wilson presents a group of paintings depicting an assortment of mirrored reflections, paintings, prints, photographs, and reproductions. These pictures within the paintings adorn a variety of provisional spaces; foyers, waiting areas, bedside tables, drawing rooms, and motels. Like his previous work, Wilson recasts images of interior spaces and set dressing found in the seemingly endless availability of streaming television and film. These repurposed screen grabs are then filtered through the historical lens of premodern tendencies in representation. This practice, an attempt at slowing the viewer down for reflection remains, yet here, Wilson doubles down by zooming in on the re-depiction of those quoted histories within his own pictures. This reframing literally and metaphorically rearranges the conditions with which one engages in that contemplation.

“To me, the recursive nature of these paintings is analogous to the infinite regress of thought and meaning—in the way that the definition of words require the use of other, yet to be defined, words to describe them, and so on. Painting is a way of re-contextualizing these strange loops and harnessing meaning indirectly. For example, to quote me speaking now in this context is altogether different than the previous paragraph, despite the fact that I wrote them both.”
—Tim Wilson

He is currently showing work at JDJ gallery in Tribeca, for the group exhibition, Feels Like Home, running until 3/2/24.

Jan 202024
 

Calvin Marcus’ Tall Snowman, 2019, (Watercolor and vinyl paint on linen), was one of several of his large paintings included in Whitney Museum’s 2019 Biennial.

He and fellow Los Angeles artist Laura Owens will be in an exhibition together at Gaga gallery’s Guadalajara, Mexico location, opening 2/2/24.