VOTE NOW! NAP ANNUAL PRIZE: 2013 READER’S CHOICE POLL
Of the 240 artists featured in New American Paintings in 2013, twelve (two from each issue) were distinguished as being Noteworthy. And this is where it gets fun....now it is your opportunity to turn 12 artists into 1. Below, you will find 2013’s twelve Noteworthy artists listed, along with an image and brief commentary. One of these 12 artists will be named the New American Paintings Artist of the Year! In addition to being featured again in our 2014 June/July issue, the winner of the Reader’s Choice Annual Prize will receive a cash prize of $500 and a $1,000 Blick Art Materials gift certificate sponsored by:
Learn more about each artist after the jump!
Cast your vote by Wednesday, January 15th (Midnight EST). The winner of the Reader’s Choice poll will be announced on Friday, January 24th.We looked at a lot of paintings in 2013. Over the course of the year, hundreds of artists submitted work to our six annual competitions, and within that large applicant pool there was a bewildering range of aesthetic viewpoints to consider. As it is every year, two hundred forty artists were selected to be featured in New American Paintings. We fully acknowledge that judging art is a highly subjective venture, and that, given other jurors and circumstances, the list of selected artists in 2013 could look very different. We want to thank all of the artists who trusted us with their work in 2013.
I have been a fan of John Bankston’s work for a long time, and, as I have stated in the past, he is firmly on my list of most underrated mid-career painters. For well over a decade, Bankston has drawn from children’s coloring books, using their visual structures to explore a deep interest in the interaction between painting and drawing. It is through Bankston’s primary activity of painting that narrative enters his work. His highly personal iconography seems innocent enough at first, but the look of his paintings belies their complex and layered content, which concerns decidedly nonchildlikeissues including race, gender, and identity.
Photographs of Christie Blizard’s modest-sized paintings and collages immediately intrigued me. I can only imagine the curiosity they might arouse in passersby who encounter them on the street, stapled to or wrapped around electrical poles. Posted where we would expect to find signs for missing pets or personal advertisements for housekeeping services, Blizard’s paintings and drawings invoke this vernacular tradition, appearing below handwritten messages such as “I want you to have this.” Since 2010,Blizard has been giving away work in this fashion in cities ranging from Austin and Lubbock to Boston, New York, and Reykjavik. Part public intervention, part performance art, part landscape painting, her work can be seen as part of the collaborative economy, a fascinating, larger ecosystem that encompasses everything from AirBnB to Wikipedia.
Jaqueline Cedar’s dreamscapes tap into a realm of unguarded emotion. The gestures and postures of her simply rendered figures in states of isolation and disorientation exude vulnerability. There is nothing feigned here: no pretension, just bare human sentiment. Large in scale, Cedar’s pictures invite us to commune with aspects of human existence that are often internalized. In a world where we regularly put up defenses and build walls around our vulnerability, Cedar’s images are refreshing.
Bethanie Collins’s paintings on untreated canvas feature abstract compositions that combine grids and geometric shapes and patterns with linear arrangements to present to simple optical illusions familiar from elementary-school mathematical textbooks. The works extend critical considerations in recent art on the nature of visual observation and visuality, how we understand the world through what and how we see, and how the way we see is determined by cultural as well as physical factors. Collins complicates the inherently perplexing nature of illusional games by devising further dynamics between the shapes, colors, and forms, which seem to function according to an internal logic. The narrow format of the paintings concentrates these visual and formal relationships; while the use of untreated canvas provides the lines and colors with an added, almost physical presence. Collins’s paintings offer a subtle reflection on the complicated and central role that vision and perception play in our experience of the world.
Carlos Daniel Donjuan
Carlos Daniel Donjuan’s paintings evince both the raw energy of his street art beginnings and the refinement of his academic training. The combination is potent. Donjuan’s work deals with the idea of illegal aliens, and, in a broader sense, with the condition of alienation in contemporary culture. Born in Mexico and raised in the United States, during his childhood Donjuan slowly began to perceive his outsider status. His current paintings are fueled by that realization and the negativity it engendered. In them, a variety of figures—some human, some animal, and some hybrid—engage in a journey toward a better life.
There has been a lot of attention focused on abstract painting in recent years, and as of late the word “process” has been bandied about a lot when it comes to the discourse surrounding abstraction. An increasing number of young painters are looking to artists such as Christopher Wool and Albert Oehlen for inspiration, not in terms of end results, but because of the ways in which they have expanded the definition of just what a painting can be and how it might be made. Yoshiaki Mochizuki’s paintings are constructed with process that feels both highly personal and utterly mechanical. He is interested in creating an active dialogue between the numerous layers of his paintings, such that no one layer dominates the visual conversation. Through many moves, Mochizuki offers paintings that require both time and bodily movement to fully experience.
There is an unabashed ebullience in Jorge Mujica’s work that immediately captivated me. It is as if he drove through his hometown of Los Angeles, took in every sight and sound, and somehow concentrated the city’s hum and energy into potent objects. Beginning with drawing, Mujica plans his compositions before realizing them as three-dimensional painting surfaces. The final works are complex in how they deal with issues of color and form, and they brim with cultural references, yet there is nothing heavy–handed or overly calculated about them.
Surrealism, violence, and vanitas meet in the richly colored paintings of Chris Musina. His hybrid creatures and dismembered animal parts give new meaning to the concept of nature morte, or the still life. This is nature made dead: chopped up, discarded, and then rediscovered in the artist’s studio, the swamp, or under the glow of the northern lights. Realistically painted, as if capturing a scene in a fairytale of folly (perhaps humankind’s abuse of nature), his images leave us wondering what went awry in a world where blood and guts mix with the cute and dainty.
Jim Richard is a renowned New Orleans artist who is best known for his paintings of interiors that are crammed with works of art, furniture, and bric-a-brac. There are no people in Richard’s paintings; indeed, there is no room for them. With imagery culled from a variety of source material, Richard painstakingly constructs his raucous interiors until all of the elements fall into a state of rigorous order. While his work demonstrates an extreme reverence and love for the activity of painting—Richard’s technical abilities are extraordinary—he allows high and low art to collide and vie for dominance.
Paint Stack: White Cover, by San Francisco artist and pastry chef Leah Rosenberg, is less a painting than a sculpture made of paint. Built slowly of variously colored acrylic paints that have been poured into trays and left to dry until they could be handled, Rosenberg’s layered stack manages to call to mind things as disparate as a muscular John Chamberlain and a delectable Napoleon. It prompts us to think about the elemental nature of paint, not in relationship to a canvas or a wall, but in relationship to itself and other things we know.
Claire Stigliani produces manic, idiosyncratic paintings that draw from a wide range of source materials. In each, the artist inserts herself as protagonist, observer, and subject. Stigliani is interested in how femininity is portrayed in contemporary culture, and to this end her work references the female form as depicted in art history, photographs, posters, literature, YouTube clips, and more. Through her unpredictable selection of imagery and intuitive manipulation of space and form—linear perspective is essentially abandoned—Stigliani keeps her work in a constant state of flux, causing the viewer to uneasily shift between neutrality and complicity.
I’ve been drawn to Scott Wolniak’s strange plaster objects for a while now. I saw them early on in the studio at a time when they seemed to offer a new and surprising turn in the work, heading somewhere between painting, automatic drawing, and mystical archaeology. I admire the way Wolniak conceives abstraction as a condition of depth rather than surface. His objects are cast, stained, broken apart, and incised, but the resulting forms don’t feel sculpted so much as evolved, even fossilized. They capture an uncanny, hallucinatory sense of discovery.