I love the way the artist David Salle makes pictures but also how he writes. This is excerpted from an article in the New York Review of Books about a large show of paintings by Laura Owens, but what I liked and related to were the parts that seem to directly pertain to my art works.
“For decades, and especially in the mid-twentieth century, a persuasive reading of modern painting revolved around the idea of the gestalt—the way every element in a painting coalesced into one totality, one essence that blotted out ambiguity. A painting isn’t a thing about another thing—it just is. This gestalt theory of painting was especially alluring during abstraction’s dominance; it put a brake on the drive for narrative, and helped to establish painting’s autonomy from literalist interpretations. But a funny thing happened to the gestalt: life intruded. What if the whole is not more than the sum of its various parts, but more like a shopping list? What if all the various elements used to make a painting are just left out on the floor like pieces from a puzzle that no one bothered to finish? In a recent New Yorker profile, Owens thoughtfully implies that the time for gestalts is over, that collage—i.e., something made out of parts or layers—is simply a feature of the life we all lead. Indeed, a big part of our culture is involved with putting things together, with little distinction made between the invented and the found, and even less between the past and the present. The fragmentary, the deconstructed, even the deliberately mismatched—that is our reality. We are all collage artists now. As someone who holds more or less the same view I can hardly fault Owens for believing this, but it seems to me that her paintings are very much gestalts anyway, though perhaps of a new kind, something closer in their effect to imagist poetry, and it’s their sometimes surprising gestaltness that holds our attention. Owens has interesting ideas, but it is her ability to give them form, often in unexpected ways sourced from unlikely corners of the visual world, that makes her art exciting. Owens’s paintings are squarely in the middle of a postmodern aesthetic that’s been gaining momentum for the last ten or fifteen years. It is not the world of Luc Tuymans via Gerhard Richter, in which the painting’s photographic source is like a radioactive isotope that you could never touch but that, in its absence, is what really matters. The new attitude is not much interested in photography at all. It wants to rough an image up, put it through a digital sieve, and decorate the hell out of it…”
J: The fragmentation in your work is emblematic of how we as a society have been cordoned off into groups and tribes, and yet we are trying to work together. Are you seeing new themes and imagery show up as related to the “crazy pants” events of the past year?
P: My paintings (and drawings) are often divided into zones, but I use formal elements to bring the various parts together. So they do walk a line between ‘fragmented’ and ‘unified’. It’s a literal way to show the fragmented nature of society and by extension, ourselves, internally. I have so many interests, so many areas I study, that pictorial content comes to me from a lot of sources…
Click the link above for the rest of the interview on Julia’s blog.
Peter Illig is a staple in Denver’s art scene. Having aggressively worked for the last twelve years as an artist, in “Full Fathom Five,” Illig exhibits new works that epitomize his signature style. Known for his use of monochromatic imagery, realist style and surrealist composition, Illig has created five new large-format oil paintings for this exhibition.
This series of work explores Illig’s interest in appropriation and in paint-on-paint pastiche. He has incorporated various images of pre-existing work – including Gericualt’s “Raft of the Medusa” and Winslow Homer’s “Gulf Stream.” Atop these underpaintings, Illig inserts seemingly incongruous images. The effect of this is simultaneously unsettling and intriguing. The exhibition’s title was also taken from seasoned artists, both Shakespeare and Sylvia Plath have used “Full Fathom Five.” Illig sees the process of appropriation as a means to build on the art and ideas that history has provided, in new visually and intellectually challenging ways. This method allows him to show how ideas, events and art of the past and present are all connected –a prominent idea in Illig’s work.
Known for his monochromatic paintings, Illig believes that the monochrome, specifically black and white, offers a documentary quality to the work-presenting ideas honestly and truthfully, where the seductive nature of color can distract the viewer from the ideas presented in the work.
Illig’s canvases are saturated with images and loaded with metaphor which creates a very active viewing experience-the eye is pulled back and forth across the work, and eagerly searches for the answer to the puzzle Illig presents. Illig takes inspiration from quantum physics, philosophy and theory to develop his work. He also aggressively addresses modern issues and themes. This series is heavily dependent on the imagery of water, a metaphor for deeply felt emotion.