May 182024
 

Miho Ichise “Backlit Portrait”, 2024, oil on linen

Lina Tharsing, “Late Afternoon”, 2024, “It’s Not All Darkness”,2024, and “High Above”, 2022, oil on canvas

Miho Ichise “Warm, Gentle”, 2024, oil on linen

Lina Tharsing, “Golden Ginko”, 2024, and “Waiting for Us”, 2024, oil on canvas

Miho Ichise “Dancing Lights”, 2024, oil on linen

Lina Tharsing, “One Clear Moment”, 2024, and “Eclipse”, 2023, oil on canvas

Walking into the room of paintings in the Miho Ichise and Lina Tharsing two person exhibition at Scroll, the outside world seems to disappear, replaced with a sense of calm. Although their subject matter is similar, their approaches are different- as detailed in the press release below.

From Scroll’s website-

Photographing scenes of the life around her, Miho Ichise translates these snapshots into drawings before finishing her compositions on canvas. Rather than paint what is directly and physically in front of her, Ichise turns to photography, which she feels gives her a certain freedom to create her world, taking extracts of an image, changing the colors, and adding other elements. Painting is not just a replication of her surroundings, but a sensory and atmospheric translation – an attempt to capture the sight, sound, touch, smell, and feeling around her. Ichise draws inspiration and admiration from the play of light and shadow by Georges de La Tour, the lush and atmospheric scenes of printmaker Hasui Kawase, the refined and minimal compositions of Alex Katz, and the colorful textures of Pierre Bonnard.

The artist states, “I would like my work to be an open door to anyone where they can enter to enjoy a connection to their childhood or small excitement of daily life.” Her intimate paintings crop to subtle and distinct details – an element of a scene – allowing the viewer to imagine the bigger picture beyond the edges of the canvas. Whether depicting family members, friends, or strangers on a street, Ichise always draws from scenes of her life and experience.

Both intimate and visually transfixing, Lina Tharsing’s paintings are rooted in real places while possessing a dreamlike quality. For Tharsing, nature is a vehicle where she finds moments of transcendence in the ordinary fabric of everyday life. Light plays a major role in Tharsing’s compositions – whether filtering through trees or glimmering across water, light serves as a catalyst, and a reminder to stay curious.

Following the loss of her parents, Tharsing’s work has been shaped by grief, a transformative force that has reframed her perception of the world. Tharsing states, “Grief is a paradoxical experience – a profound journey into sadness, yet also a doorway to nearly overwhelming love and connection. Each of these paintings is a gateway, an entrance, a window, to what I refer to as ‘thin places’ – moments that reveal the veil between the seen and unseen. My paintings are an invitation to contemplate the presence of something beyond ourselves, something ineffable yet persistent, felt, and present. I am more aware than ever of our collective grief about our relationship to this planet, our ecological grief, and the grief associated with war and human suffering. I come back to the invitation of grief which asks us to transform ourselves and to open ourselves towards our connectedness.”

This exhibition closes 5/18/24.

Jan 312024
 

This mural by Ernesto Maranje was created for Florida Wildlife Corridor, located in The Factory complex in St. Pete.

For more of Maranje’s work, also check out his Instagram.

 

Dec 082023
 

“Eulogy for Twilight: Ad Memoriam”, 2023, Oil on canvas

“Golden Pond”, 2023, Oil on canvas

“A Stream for Fiver”, 2023, Oil on canvas

Morean Arts Center in St. Pete is currently showing Remember When, a selection of dramatic and beautiful work by Tampa based artist Alex Espalter-Torres.

From the artist about the work-

“Unlike conventional landscapes that attempt to capture an exact image, my artwork has always been my personal narrative; an amalgam of places, tragedies and triumphs, fears and hopes, and dreams of the unknown. The one constant in my vision is the impact of the sea and sky on this earth, both experienced and imagined.

I have always worked in layers; nothing is whole or complete on the surface. There are experiences running beneath my images, much like currents in a river or riptides in the sea. The composition is often torn and dripping, showing droplets of the past and visions of the future.

My works have evolved over the years to remove myself as the sole narrator. You, the viewer, are invited to interpret each image and insert your layers and reactions as a reflection of yourself.”

This exhibition closes 12/30/23.

Aug 072023
 

In honor of Leo season, here’s French artist Rosa Bonheur’s painting Crouching Lion, 1872, currently on view at Orlando Museum of Art.

From the museum’s information plaque-

Rosa Bonheur specialized in animal subject matter and was one of only a few women in the 19th century to achieve international success as an artist. She painted large-scale and complex compositions that were regularly exhibited in the prestigious Salon-the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts.

Bonheur did many versions of lions at rest, alone or in groups. A number of these compositions were reproduced in popular engravings that helped give her work a large international audience.

 

Apr 142023
 

“As the Crow Flies”, 2022

“As the Crow Flies”, 2022 (detail)

“As the Crow Flies”, 2022 (detail)

“As the Crow Flies”, 2022 (detail)

“Skunk Hour”, 2022

“Dogwood”, 2022

“Dogwood”, 2022 (detail)

There’s more to Nikki Maloof’s paintings than meets the eye in her exhibition Skunk Hour at Perrotin. The more you look, the more details- often dark- begin to emerge.

From the press release-

For Nikki Maloof, painting is a way to convey the experience of existing in the world—the light, the dark, and all the shadows in between. Her language is figuration: she started out with portraits of individual animals, progressing onto still lifes and, most recently, domestic interiors and landscapes populated with a mix of creatures—human and non-human; alive, dead, and inanimate. These subjects, on one level, have an everyday familiarity. Indeed, they are in many instances collected from Maloof’s immediate environment: for the past few years, her house and studio in rural Massachusetts. But the resulting depictions, however vivid, never feel quite real. The colors are bright, the shapes cartoonish, the compositions often implausible. Everything is emotionally charged. The eyes of dead fish seem to brim with sadness, the oversized blade of a knife glints with menace. A woman who shares Maloof’s physical features stands at a window with a glum expression, her face only just visible behind a tree dense with apples. Looking at these canvases is like looking at a series of dreams, governed by a mysterious logic, their characters and events freighted with ambiguous symbolism.

Of course, unlike in a dream, Maloof chooses what to paint: hers is a conscious artistry. We see evidence of this in her equally accomplished graphite works on paper, in which images are carefully worked out before she embarks on the larger oils on linen. (It’s fun to play spot the difference between the versions in pencil and paint: notice how a glass of wine materializes on a countertop; how a cat relocates from the landing to the stairs.) Perhaps her work is more akin to confessional poetry, intensely personal yet meticulously crafted. The title of this exhibition, “Skunk Hour,” is borrowed from a well-known poem by Robert Lowell, published in 1959, which begins as a light-hearted description of a seaside town in Maine and culminates in a self-portrait of a mind in turmoil. “I myself am hell,” wrote Lowell, “nobody’s here— / only skunks, that search / in the moonlight for a bite to eat.” Similarly, Maloof describes the scenes she constructs as “vessels,” giving tangible form to psychological states or particular thoughts and feelings.

The idea for this new series of paintings hatched last spring, when one morning the artist stumbled upon the birth of a fawn near her home, and later that day witnessed the body of a recently deceased neighbor being removed from his home. She decided that she wanted to capture the weight of being made simultaneously aware of the beginning and the end of life, as well as the tension between the mundane and extraordinary. There are no laboring deer or body bags here: instead, we get paintings like Life Cycles (2022), in which five plates are arranged in a circle, showing the progression of fishes’ lives from small orange roe on crackers to clean-picked bones. Or Burning Bush (2022), in which an empty bird’s nest rests inches away from a hawk dismembering its prey on a branch of the same tree. Whether taking the form of conventional still lifes or more expansive house-and-garden scenes, Maloof’s coded pictures make clear reference to the conventions of Western religious vanitas painting, with its representations of physical objects—flowers, food, skulls—to symbolize the transience of earthly pleasures.

If this sounds unremittingly heavy, it’s not. Maloof’s paintings also offer up many of their own pleasures, both intellectual and sensuous. It would be remiss, for instance, to ignore the slapstick wit in the detail of a rolled joint on a kitchen shelf in the work entitled Skunk Hour (2022): skunk here signifying not the foul-odored mammal but the just-as-pungent strain of cannabis. Life, as Maloof understands, is nearly always funny, even when things are pretty bad. And if you’re not in the mood to laugh, well, just try to resist the delights of the paintings themselves—their profusions of color, pattern, and texture. Extending the culinary theme, we might describe her work as a feast for the eyes. See how the coiling smoke from the lit joint rhymes with the squiggles of steam rising above a pair of artichokes in a colander; notice the thick scraped impasto of the howling cat’s bristling fur. Maloof is unabashedly maximalist in her approach to her canvases, layering both imagery and brushstrokes, at times threatening to overwhelm her subjects through an abundance of painterly gesture. This makes perfect sense. In such moments it becomes clear that, despite the universality of their themes, Maloof’s paintings are a vision of the world as seen through the eyes of a singular artist.

This exhibition will close 4/15/23.

Mar 222023
 

Rajan Krishnan, “House and a Little Cashew Tree”, 2010

Rajan Krishnan, “Language of Woods”, 2009

Rajan Krishnan, “Language of Woods”, 2009 (detail)

Rajan Krishnan “Bird from the Grove by the River”, 2011

Beautiful paintings by the late Rajan Krishnan from his exhibition Ecologue at Aicon Contemporary.

From the press release-

A play on the word eclogue, a genre of short poems about pastoral life, the suffix ‘logue’ denotes discourse of a specific type, ‘Ecologue’ then is an ecological discourse. This specific conversation about the ecological happens through contact between coarse canvas and the paint on the bristles of Rajan Krishnan’s brush, it is a document : a letter, a journal, a portrait, a story, a manual.

Krishnan’s paintings have been described by his wife and journalist Renu Ramnath as “documents of change.” The careful renderings of Kerala’s agrarian landscape (trees, birds, forests, rivers) are engrossed in larger themes of societal transition and movement – progress and decay, each individual painting freezing a moment in time. In this series of paintings, Krishnan visualizes a vibrant world so full of detail, yet isolated, in an aura of nothingness, compressed, with no backgrounds or foregrounds. His paintings bring the viewer in to meditate on existence. A boat, a fish, a tree, a house, a monkey just as they are.

The artist’s commitment to his home state of Kerala is admirable, as a topography to be both admired and critiqued as a landscape full of possibility. Andrew Shea recalls, for “those who knew him and those who admired his spirit and work, the palpable absence of the artist himself wanes slightly amidst the remarkable body of work he has left behind and his legacy as a pioneer of the uniquely collaborative and welcoming community of artists he nurtured within Kochi and further afield.”

Art historian Kathleen Wyma writes “Krishnan’s paintings seize on sites of crystallized memory as critical interventions into the present. Re-calling and re-recollecting the flow and ebb of time (both real and imagined). His images simultaneously evoke the will to remember and the desire to heed the accretions of localized time.” In our current moment, as questions of climate worsen and the illusion of development as progress remains, every intentional stroke of Krishnan’s brush acts as a tool for contemplation. Scenes of dried up rivers, singular fish, and labyrinth-like groves invite us to reflect on the past, present, and future.

Mar 162023
 

Cy Gavin, “Untitled (Yellow pine),” 2023

Cy Gavin, “Untitled (Crossroads/meadow), 2022

Cy Gavin, “Untitled (Crossroads/meadow), 2022

Cy Gavin, “Untitled (Crossroads/meadow), 2022 (detail)

It’s the last week to see Cy Gavin’s painting exhibition at Gagosian’s 21st location in NYC.

From the gallery’s press release-

Gavin’s landscape paintings transmute subjective responses to specific places into expansive works with striking palettes and fluid, gestural brushwork. Composed in dimensions that are in keeping with the scale of experience, these paintings interpret the sites and processes of the natural world. In this body of work, Gavin concentrates on subjects he finds in the vicinity of his studio in New York’s Hudson Valley. He proposes a conception of landscape in relation to his status as a citizen and steward of the land, developing ways to explore themes of growth, renewal, and belonging.

Gavin’s paintings respond to the land as he finds it, which he endeavors to preserve and rewild. Made following the artist’s move to his current studio in early 2020, these works are also undergirded by the tensions of our time, which are marked by periods of solitude and upheaval.

Operating both as a gestural abstraction and as a painterly interpretation of a patch of ground near his studio, Untitled (Crossroads/meadow) (2022) depicts the intersection of paths bordered by tall grass in a fiery palette dominated by yellows, oranges, and pinks, evoking the blazing heat and brightness of the late summer sun. Along with the traditional symbolism of directionality and decision-making that is inherent to crossroads, this view presents a previously manicured lawn that the artist allowed to regrow into a meadow, with mown paths allowing access through it.

The verdant Untitled (Paths in a meadow) (2022) revisits the motif, placing the viewer low to the ground so that burgeoning grass and wildflowers divide the picture plane. Untitled (Paths, crossing—blue) (2022) is a nocturnal scene that conveys the enveloping darkness of a moonlit night. Gavin composed the painting with shades of blue that range from the diffuse washes over raw canvas in its foreground to dark, opaque passages that demarcate a tree line and open up to a star-filled sky. In a related palette of blues, Floor Painting #1 (Natural spring) (2023) is a mural-size work inspired by the dynamic waters of a spring. Displayed horizontally, the painting’s surface conveys the experience of looking down into the roiling currents, light variably revealing its depths and movements.

The themes of boundaries and borders are also prominent in Untitled (Rhododendron border) (2022), a painting in which sweeping brushstrokes describe the leaves of a woodland shrub on a dark ground, beyond which nothing can be seen. Its opacity expresses its function: the privacy achieved by a hedge the artist sited along the thoroughfare adjoining his property.

Other conceptions of time, place, and growth emerge in Untitled (Baldcypress) (2022), a painting in complementary hues that expresses the robust growth of one of the many saplings that Gavin has planted on his property. Outside its current natural range, this ancient species of tree once thrived in New York State, with this specimen now brought back to the area. Reflecting a mix of natural forces and the history of human interventions that defines the land, Untitled (Grass growing on a weir) (2022) depicts currents of water as they pass over the concrete slabs of a former dam that is now fully submerged. Simultaneously revealing and concealing visual information, the painting exists as an amalgam of past and present that defines the specificities of this place.

This exhibition closes 3/18/2023.

Feb 232023
 

Neil Welliver, “Big Flowage”, 1979

Neil Welliver, “Big Flowage”, 1979 (detail)

Neil Welliver, “Marsh Shadow”, 1984

Neil Welliver quote on the gallery wall

Currently at Alexandre Gallery in NYC are Neil Welliver’s gorgeous paintings and works on paper, spanning his career from the late 1960s-2000, and including his last woodcut print, Stump.

From the gallery’s website

In his 2005 New York Times obituary, Ken Johnson wrote:

Mr. Welliver came of age as an artist in the late 1950’s and 60’s, at a time when nonrepresentational styles of painting like Abstract Expressionism and, later, Color Field and Minimalism were accorded the highest critical prestige. Along with artists like Larry Rivers, Alex Katz and Philip Pearlstein, Mr. Welliver strove to paint representational images without sacrificing the formal innovations that the Abstract Expressionists Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning had introduced to modern painting.

Welliver’s lifelong friend, the American poet Mark Strand, wrote of his process in 2001:

What sets Welliver’s woods apart from the woods of others is that they are, of course, his. We see them and know instantly who painted them. That stream plunging and swirling around those gray rocks is familiar, so are those clouds parading in ragged order across that sky spreading a midday blue over those hills. They are all part of Welliver’s woods. The unaffectedness, the ease with which they are simply there, without a hint of what went into their making, without an indication anywhere of the turmoil that prompted them, is what sets them apart. Of course, we can see the many brush strokes in a large Welliver and believe that they—in their tireless application—tell us what goes into a Welliver, but we would be wrong, for there is much in a Welliver that we cannot see. In the past of each one are the long hikes into the woods, which Welliver takes, loaded down with easel, canvas, brushes, oil, thinner, and tubes of color, to the spot where he will paint; then there are the hours he stands, in all kinds of weather, and paints what will be the small preparatory paintings on which he bases the large drawings that lead finally to the large paintings.

This exhibition closes 2/25/23.