Some artists have a way of conjuring up a sense of relevance in their work even when it does not overtly depict the social and political narratives of their era. I’m in awe of how the reductive sensibilities of Beverly Rautenberg, Gwen Hardie, Ingela Skytte, Josh Mitchell, Osamu Kobayashi, and Stacy Fisher are able to quietly nudge open doors to their temperaments and reveal points of view that suggest something universal in part because they are so intensely personal. Through their work we are at once invited into the intimate world of these discerning artists’ pared down aesthetics; at the same time their sincerity and vulnerability form a perch from which we can look out and catch a flickering glimpse of something true.
The artists in this summer's group post initially caught my eye and have sustained my interest in part because their work engages with the precarious concept of beauty- celebrating it in novel and unique ways, teasing out new sensibilities, or undermining it unsparingly. But it also celebrates our complexity as people and is often tied to how we think about and navigate our way through life. The decisions made to bring this work into being suggest an optimistic framework for conceptualizing a better future. These are paintings and assemblages that reject the absurd cruelty that surrounds us without conspicuously referencing it. Instead, they quietly advocate for a world that could be through the joy of a color, the frankness of a texture and the subtlety of a shape. They are reminders that we all have interests, hopes and needs that exist outside of the perpetually and unsustainably urgent 24 hour news cycle. In the hands of these sensitive painters private, poetic and very human concerns feel -for lack of a better term- timeless.
I want to thank each of the artists for their contributions. In addition to sending me recent work, they were also asked to respond to the question "How do form and content mingle and share space in your work?" Their thoughtful responses are included below.
Gwen Hardie | 07.06.21, pale cool pink on raw umber, 2021 | Oil on canvas | 20 x 20 inches
I love how color and tone can transform flatness into an illusion of three dimensional space in painting. This alchemical process corresponds in my work to the action of bringing the painting to life.
Each painting presents a color-field which appears to oscillate between presence and atmosphere, gently expanding and contracting like the act of breathing – mirroring the viewer as they look into the painting. To achieve this effect, I build up a unified film of oil paint by blending one dominant foreground color over one background color.
The gradients between the two grounds are manipulated and blended until the radiance of the foreground asserts itself and appears to glow in a subtle way that resists stasis and appears to be alive.
- Gwen Hardie