Interview

January 10, 2016, 10:09am

Catchig up with Blaise Rosenthal, 2014 New American Paintings Annual Prize Winner

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

 

Listed under: Interview, Noteworthy

December 10, 2015, 12:31pm

A Conversation: Joyce Pensato

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


Texas Batman, 2015, Enamel on canvas. 100 x 160 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Petzel, New York.

Listed under: Interview

October 19, 2015, 9:27pm

Larry Bob Phillips: Paintings of the Electric Night

“I was told that my color wasn’t good early on, but the truth is that I worked too fast and was lazy about how I used it, so I kind of fell prey to the standard pitfalls of being a young painter,” says Larry Bob Phillips as he gestures to an enormous ink drawing tacked to his studio wall. We’re standing in his South Valley Albuquerque studio, a space that doesn’t resemble so much a studio as a wood shop; there are drawings and studies strewn about almost entirely covering a behemoth of a table saw in the center of the room. Numerous picture frames Phillips has built for clients hang on the wall amongst stacks of rough cut lumber, and his neat, hand-lettered script identifies drawers of repurposed cabinets containing various tools and other miscellaneous equipment used for carpentry and sign painting. Phillips offers, “I definitely had to work at it though, so I definitely don’t feel like color is a weakness, I’m just at that point that I feel like color stops some of the complexities that happens when you’re working with black and white.” – Claude Smith, Albuquerque/Santa Fe Contributor


Larry Bob Phillips | Brainbow, 2015, ink on paper, 40 x 60 inches; image courtesy the artist and PHIL SPACE

Listed under: Interview, Review

September 25, 2015, 10:32am

The Cost of War with Emily L. R. Adams

Emily L. R. Adams (NAP #117) uses motor oil to create beautiful and evocative monoprints. Featuring prints from U.S. newspapers that quite physically depict the faces of the casualties of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, she ties in the medium of the motor oil as an underlying commentary on both the human cost of and monetary investment in war.


Emily L. R. Adams | Cost of Oil [US Casualties - Afghanistan and Iraq Wars], motor oil and ink on panel, 40 x 40 inches, 2014.

Her work is familiar in that viewers get the sense that they have seen the images before, though it is hard to put your finger on how and why. The recast newspaper images are at once haunting, tragic, and moving, challenging us to consider our role in the war and how we remember both the war and those we have lost in it. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

Listed under: Interview

September 24, 2015, 9:11am

James Sterling Pitt: The Ritual of Remembering

“It drives people absolutely crazy," James Sterling Pitt (NAP #103) tells me with a laugh one hot summer afternoon in Albuquerque’s North Valley. “So many people want to see my work strictly as either sculpture or painting that when I tell them they’re vessels, they just can’t figure it out.” Uniquely occupying both symbolic and utilitarian spaces, Pitt’s work initially grew out of his response to both personal trauma and the subsequent recovery process, but more recently however, these experiences have led to a fundamental shift in the ways in which he views and records his surroundings, interactions and memories. This desire to physically document his daily experiences makes his artistic practice virtually inseparable from his everyday life. - Claude Smith Albuquerque/Santa Fe Contributor


James Sterling Pitt | Installation view, 2015, courtesy of the artists and Anglim Gilbert Gallery; Photo: Rhiannon Mercer

Listed under: Interview

August 21, 2015, 9:36am

Deciphering Bart Exposito’s “Strange Alphabet”

After living in Los Angeles for 14 years, Bart Exposito knew the exact moment returning to life as usual in sunny California was no longer an option. In 2012, after participating in a residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute, his mind was made up and as he put it, “I just decided right then I wasn’t leaving.” He marks his return to L.A. with Strange Alphabet at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, which showcases his latest body of work as a continuation of his interest in design, typography and affinity for line. – Claude Smith Albuquerque/Santa Fe Contributor


Bart Exposito | Untitled, 2015, acrylic on canvas 60" H x 48" W (152.4 cm H x 121.92 cm W) Gallery Inventory #EXP106, Courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles ProjectsPhoto: Robert Wedemeyer

Listed under: Interview, Review

July 30, 2015, 1:02pm

Small Things with Loud Noise: The Fabulously Sardonic World of Alex Gingrow

Alex Gingrow’s (NAP #116) work is some of my favorite I have seen recently. It is intelligent, sarcastic, relevant, humorous, and resonant. I saw it months ago and haven’t stopped thinking about it.

Taking items as mundane as daily desktop calendar pages, museum wall labels, and stickers, Gingrow transforms them all into powerful agents with important social messages. She addresses the passage of time with unexpected juxtapositions of quotes in the “Disposable Day Desk Calendar” (as the series is titled) with her daily notes in the form a completed sentence “Today I ____”. - Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor


Alex Gingrow | Calendar Page: part of the This Disposable Day Desk Calendar series. "01.11.13" graphite, ink, and acrylic on paper, 15 x 15 inches, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

Listed under: Interview

July 29, 2015, 9:10am

On Monuments and Memories, Flags and Fire: The Art of Tom Pazderka

Tom Pazderka’s (NAP #117) work is quietly disturbing. His mixed media and wood installations have a haunting presence, suggesting isolated cabins in the woods, lone wolves, and ideas or dreams gone astray. They feel threatening, yet on the other hand, they are also somehow unassuming and peaceful. – Ellen Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor


Tom Pazderka | The Disquieting Monument to Southern Discomfort, Burned image on recycled wood, painted towel and broom, Dimensions variable, 2014. Courtesy of Artist.

Listed under: Interview

July 16, 2015, 9:01am

We’ve got one question: DAVID SALLE

In David Salle’s solo museum show at the Dallas Contemporary, Salle owns his art world persona. His works playfully lure in the viewer only to smoothly transition into a seriousness that could only come from years of knowing the ropes (quite literally, in two paintings he has attached a velvet rope).  The paintings are easy to enjoy and showcase Salle’s ability to carve out figures with subtle washes and delicate line while excavating Painting’s history. The images in the work are perfectly timed and slyly hilarious. – Arthur Peña, Dallas Contributor

Listed under: Interview

June 05, 2015, 8:45am

The Labyrinth of Abstraction: Victoria Haven’s They all stopped walking

The hedge maze is one of the most memorable images of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. In the Northwest, most of us know this labyrinth isn’t real (it was part of a constructed set) because we are familiar with Oregon’s Timberline Lodge, whose building served as the hotel’s exterior in the film and has no maze. Seattle artist Victoria Haven’s (NAP #6, #49) show at Greg Kucera Gallery, They all stopped walking, references a scene that takes place inside The Shining’s maze. At first, it was hard to see a connection between this new work and the artist’s earlier paintings and sculptures of abstracted, geometric forms that I knew so well.  The older forms even make a few appearances, as does an entire wall of words extracted from text messages that had been turned into woodblock prints and separated into pairs that only make sense together sometimes.  I found myself intrigued but unsure of how everything came together. I was on the brink of lost.

But, when Haven spoke of her desire to question abstraction in the new pieces, the pathway became clearer. The disjointedness that had felt so rigid and real—between words, between mediums, between what I had seen before and what I was seeing now—dissolved, as if it had been in my imagination all along.  In its place, I found a show that continues an artist’s longstanding pursuit by starting from a new, unexpected place.—Erin Langner, Seattle contributor


Victoria Haven | Black Frames, 2014, acrylic on panel, 20 x 16 inches. Image courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery.

Listed under: Interview

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