February 11, 2016, 8:54am
The needs and priorities of artists are in constant flux. Art historians have attempted to document this flux by identifying a series of seismic shifts in aesthetics and attaching to each its defining characteristics. This practice has provided us with a litany of isms that stretch back centuries. Art history will continue to roll on, but it very well may be that the age of the ism is behind us. That’s not to say that there are not, and will not continue to be, clusters of like-minded artists whose combined efforts can generate an aesthetic critical mass that historians are able to delineate. But with instant global communication, the time in which new ideas are disseminated, assimilated, and ultimately disregarded is so compressed that the enterprise has been, at best, reduced to trend spotting.
The medium of painting, in particular, has always been prone to noticeable trends. For the better part of a decade, the trend of note has been the overwhelming amount of abstraction that has circulated, in particular that of the provisional, or de-skilled ilk. While there are some talented artists working in this vein––Richard Aldrich and Joe Bradley, to name two––much of the stuff is so hopelessly bland and devoid of meaningful content that it has garnered the moniker “zombie formalism.” In the past two years, however, the winds have shifted. Abstraction is out, and the figure is in; flatness is out, as artists begin to embrace a space that lies somewhere between reality and a digital simulacrum of it.
Both of these trends were widely visible in 2015. As I wandered though the various art fairs that make up Miami’s art week in early December I was overwhelmed by the amount of figurative painting on view…much of if it at galleries that have rarely, if ever, exhibited such work. The figure is everywhere, and being addressed with all manner of stylistic intonation. Even more conspicuous was the number of artists who, whatever their subject matter, are conjuring a kind of space that seems teasingly “real,” yet clearly relies on life as experienced through the computer screen more than the living room window. Perhaps this is not a surprise, given that a generation of artists weaned on the Internet is now coming of age.
Before getting in to this year’s list of Artists to Watch, I want to say how pleased I am to see the success of all of the artists featured on last year’s list. Sadie Benning had a knockout show at Susanne Vielmetter in Los Angeles that was critically acclaimed. Katherine Bernhardt took it to the next level with her outing at Venus Over Manhattan. Daniel Heidkamp, who just gets better and better, was heavily in demand. Eddie Martinez, whose current show at Mitchell-Innes & Nash is his best to date, is now firmly on the radar of serious international collectors. Most exciting to me is the attention given to mature painter, Katherine Bradford. Bradford has been making her quirky, extraordinary paintings for years and, finally, the world has caught up. Her work looked completely of-the-moment at NADA Miami, and her subsequent one-woman show at CANADA in New York City was a huge commercial and critical success. – Steven Zevitas, Editor/Publisher
February 04, 2016, 1:54pm
These colors survive— not, notice, thrive, or flourish, or bloom, although some do carry a floral note about them and all are temptingly considered as analogous to the anemone, beauty from blood, pain—most explicitly beyond the pale, on the periphery, the edge, the places carrying head on out beyond the solid and material plane and hanging, like gravid pauses, over nothing, like Odin from Yggdrasil or street lamps, incandescent color suspended over and illuminating voids, gaps, prismatic trimmings buried like the K/Pg boundary, a band of violence and romance and the proliferation of things difficult to recognize, study, taxonomize, comprehend, so that one looks at, say, a marvelous representation of a Hellenic-style sculpture of a woman's face and neck, Ruin and cosmic dust, in chalk!, becomes absorbed in the kinetic nature of it, of the legion of little cuts and scores which birthed her, the beak and talon marks of Prometheus' eagle in the long-coagulated, tar-like chalkboard blood of the perpetually riven, of the elegant curve of a neck, the carotid groove, being summoned from the most didactic of mediums, the upper lip and eyes piled up as if from snow, the bridge of the nose resting like Golgotha, the dogwood beams born across her forehead—no room for Pallas to get out of there!—and the small nebulae and clouds of uncrossed tally marks and all this hermetic, glorious, intricate beautiful stuff and suddenly screaming out there on the edge is this band, the colorful K/Pg layer, running like snakeskin or a Fruit by the Foot along the upper corner, process yellow and grapefruit flesh and paint-cap-groove green, and the one notices it, too, throughout the painting now, flashes of color, of inspiration!, crocuses in a black snow. - B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor
January 25, 2016, 8:51am
Several thousand of you voted and selected Sophia Narrett as New American Paintings Reader’s Choice Artist of 2015. Congratulations Sophia!
As this year’s winner, Sophia will receive a $1000 cash prize from New American Paintings. Learn more about Sophia and her work below. Thanks for voting!!!
January 10, 2016, 10:09am
One of the most gratifying aspects of publishing New American Paintings over the years has been watching our alumni go on to accomplish great things. The publication's history is replete with artists who were featured early in their careers that have gone on to become nationally and, in some cases, internationally recognized artists. Among them are individuals such as Iona Rozeal Brown, William Cordova, Amy Cutler, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Matthew Day Jackson, Eddie Martinez, Allison Schulnik and James Siena. At the end of the day, New American Paintings' number one goal is to offer deserving artists a vehicle though which there work can be discovered by an engaged and geographically diverse audience.
Since 2010, New American Paintings has awarded an annual prize to one of the two hundred and forty artists featured in that calendar year's six issues (look for our 2015 poll in the next week). In 2014, the winner of that prize was self-taught artist, Blaise Rosenthal, whose dusky, minimal abstractions draw more from his personal experiences and the American landscape then they do art historical precedent. I ran into Rosenthal's work on my annual visit to the Miami art fairs in early December. As I walked down an aisle of the UNTITLED art fair, there they were in the distance. I recognized them instantly, which, in today's overcrowded and homogenized art world really says something. It may sound trite, but these paintings have genuine presence and are clearly made by an artist who is actively searching...who is digging in the dirt. There is no artifice, or pretense to them.
As it happens, the reason Rosenthal's paintings were on view at UNTITLED is that Oakland based gallery Johannson Projects had recently discovered the work in New American Paintings. By all accounts, the relationship between Johannson and Rosenthal has turned into one that has been mutually beneficial. I had the chance to speak with Rosenthal at UNTITLED, and subsequently reached out to ask him some additional questions about his work and practice. Our conversation can be found below. - Steven Zevitas, Publisher
Blaise Rosenthal | The Ridge, Acrylic and Charcoal on Canvas, 26x29 Inches
January 06, 2016, 9:42am
Dyani White Hawk’s (NAP #113) acrylic on canvas paintings are bold, delicate, and deeply intricate. Their brightly saturated hues and geometric shapes create repetitious patterns that draw in the eye and compel viewers to want to see more. Upon further inspection, White Hawk’s paintings reveal a trick of the eye in that her brushstrokes mimic and simulate a beaded and quilted aesthetic, all in layer upon layer of fine details and repetitive brushes.
In the Process of a Painting, White Hawk walks us through her step-by-step process from the very beginning in building the stretcher bars for the canvas to showcasing the finished piece, Wičháȟpi Wakíŋyaŋ Wíŋyaŋ (Thunder Star Woman), along with its companion piece, Čhokáta Nážiŋ Wíŋyaŋ (Stands in the Center Woman). - Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor
January 04, 2016, 8:46am
Occupying a small space in the long-since vacant, historic El Sol Theatre in downtown Silver City, New Mexico, John Phillip Abbott’s second floor studio is made immediately recognizable by the makeshift spray booth on the wall just outside his front door. Inside, I found him busy packing work for two solo exhibitions opening the same weekend in January: Turquoise Sunset at Devening Projects + Editions in Chicago, and On Any Sunday at Pierogi Gallery in New York. While the work that comprises On Any Sunday is a continuation of his familiar geometrically abstract text and word paintings, Turquoise Sunset marks the beginning of a newer, slightly more experiential body of work that has Abbott revisiting his approach to painting. –Claude Smith, Albuquerque/Santa Fe Contributor
January 04, 2016, 9:06am
When you are in a gallery with Izhar Patkin’s Unveiling of a Modern Chastity, it is hard to look at the painting, but it’s also hard to look anything else. Its thick, purple wounds bore through the canvas so viscerally, they exhume the pain of a person standing beside you that you want to help, except all you can do is look. This, in some sense, is the point of the 1981 painting—the earliest work in the exhibition Art AIDS America, at the Tacoma Art Museum. Rejecting the idea of pure abstraction, the urgency of life or death circumstances floods through its sickly, yellow surface and raw, fleshy texture, moving us to find a way to respond.— Erin Langner, Seattle contributor
December 28, 2015, 3:41pm
Help us narrow it down from 1000s of artists to one…In 2015 our jurors reviewed the work of more than 20,000 individual works of art by over 5000 artists. Our jurors have the impossible task of selecting the 240 artists to be featured in the 6 issues of New American Paintings. Of those artists, twelve (two from each issue) were distinguished as being “Noteworthy,” by the juror and our editorial staff.
Well, now it is your opportunity to help us select the best of the best. Below, you will find 2015’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 2016 June/July issue, the winner of the Reader’s Choice Annual Prize will receive a cash prize of $1000!
Cast your vote by Sunday, January 24 (Midnight EST). The winner of the Reader’s Choice poll will be announced on Monday, February 1. We want to thank all of the artists who trusted us with their work in 2015. One vote per person will be counted!
Learn more about each artist after the jump!
December 10, 2015, 12:31pm
It seems Joyce Pensato needs no introduction. Her legendary personality and energetic paintings speak for themselves. In fact they scream for themselves. Much has been said in terms of what her absorption of popular culture may reflect. Updated Abstract Expressionism mutated by Warhol and technology? An aggressive reconciliation of our visually saturated world? Ominous portraits signifying a collapsing sense of the role of the image? Sure, but Pensato is quick to sidestep any prolonged reading of the work and simply acknowledge her love for all things Pop. In Pensato there is a sincere engagement with the characters and people that create our unified lexicon of references. This raw sincerity begs us to never turn away from her work as she transforms photographs and cartoon characters into forceful action. Pensato has also been known to show remnants of her studio within exhibitions. This residue which Pensato generously shares can be read as feverish and obsessive while strangely twisting her overwhelming energy into visually formidable objects. Mania made tangible. Pensato is chasing her mind through painting, the medium itself acting as the catalyst and gateway to bring all things into her loving gaze so she can squeeze tight, tighter, tighter until all is consumed by her unrelenting embrace. On the occasion of her current exhibition at the Fort Worth Modern, which presents a body of new photographs and large scale piece, we sat surrounded by Philip Guston paintings and had a conversation. - Arthur Peña, Dallas Contributor