July 2, 2013

Does Painting Still Have Boundaries To Push?

I can't think of a task more difficult for a contemporary painter than to attempt to push the boundaries of painting as a medium.  It's not that contemporary painters aren't up to a challenge, it's just what the hell boundaries are left to push in the medium of painting?

It was my understanding that this happened...
Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917

...and then this...
Robert Rauschenberg, Monogram, 1955-59

...and then there were no more boundaries.

But recently, two group shows popped up in Los Angeles - Painting In Place organized by L.A.N.D. and Wassup Painters curated by Pavan Segal at Anat Ebgi Gallery - making the case that contemporary painters continue to be boundary-pushers.  Similar intentions can be seen via the press releases from each show.

From the Painting In Place press release:
The exhibition will present a wide array of work from contemporary artists that tackle painting from various perspectives, using both traditional and unconventional techniques and media in their approach to the discipline.  Exploring various ways that the definition of painting is continuously evolving, the project seeks to expand the traditional parameters of painting, sculpture, and installation: blurred, deconstructed, and refigured.

From the Wassup Painters press release:
Wassup Painters brings together contemporary artists who approach painting through the use of nontraditional materials and innovative processes as a way of exploring new conceptual ground.  Painting as a medium has a long and rich history and recent trends have focused on exploring and reinterpreting what has come before.  In some contrast to this, Wassup Painters highlights artistic practices that push the possibilities of the medium into unexpected realms, blurring the boundaries between painting and other forms of object making.
So what's the deal?  Are there still boundaries left to push in the medium of painting?  As I understand it, the main 'boundary' in question in these two shows is the line separating the medium of painting from other mediums - like sculpture.  In a way, it is a continuation of the rebellion against Clement Greenberg's rule of medium specificity.  After thinking about these two shows, I started wondering what it would look like if artists successfully erased all the lines separating one medium from another.  Would we just be left with one singular 'super medium' that encompassed all current mediums?  What would that look like?  What would we call it?

Then I realized that's exactly what we currently have.  We call it contemporary art.

Wassup Painters is on view at Anat Ebgi Gallery through July 20, 2013.  Pics below.

Installation shot.  Wassup Painters at Anat Ebgi.

Cynthia Daignault, Any window, any morning, any evening, any day, 2012, oil on linen, 12 x 9 inches, (detail).

Cynthia Daignault, Any window, any morning, any evening, any day, 2012, oil on linen, (detail).

Henrik Olai Kaarstein, Mingling (Just Love the Boy), 2012, paint, acetone, glue, cardboard, wood, silicone, fiberboard, 38.5 x 27.5 inches.

Cynthia Daignault, Any window, any morning, any evening any day, 2012, oil on linen, 58 x 36 inches, (detail).

Installation view.  Wassup Painters at Anat Ebgi.

Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, Going into Space, 2009, oil, spray paint, collage, and masking tape on linen, 26 x 18 inches.

Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, Going into Space, 2009, (detail).

Henrik Olai Kaastein, With the Highest Degree of Coarsness, 2012, Paint, wallpaper glue, glitter, charcoal, gloss gel, iridescent medium, dirt, white spirit, acetone, nails on wooden plate, 44.5 x 47 inches.

Henrik Olai Kaastein, With the Highest Degree of Coarseness, 2012, (detail).

Henrik Olai Kaastein, The Virgin and he Friends are Just Part of the Bigger Picture, 2012, paint, cardboard, watercolor, silicone, gloss film, acetone on fiberboard, 22.5 x 19 inches.

Installation shot.  Wassup Painters at Anat Ebgi.

Left: Liam Everett, Untitled, 2012, ink, acrylic, alcohol and sea salt on masonite panels, 24 x 18 inches.
Right: Liam Everett, Untitled, 2012, ink, acrylic, and sea salt on two wood panels, 24 x 18 inches.

Kerstin Bratsch, Untitled from the series: All Ready Maid Betwixt and Between, 2013, luster on antique glass with steel bar and rubber strip, 39 x 28 inches.

Installation view.  Wassup Painters at Anat Ebgi.

Kerstin Bratsch, Untitled from the series: All Ready Maid Betwixt and Between, 2013, luster on antique glass with steel bar and rubber strip, 39 x 28 inches.

Kerstin Bratsch, Untitled, lustre and enamel on sandblasted artista glass with metal braces, 8 x 12 inches.

Kerstin Bratsch, Untitled, 2013, lustre and enamel on sandblasted artista glass with metal braces, 8 x 12 inches.

4 comments:

sue beyer said...

Who cares I just love painting

Anonymous said...

IMO.. the author loses credibility at the outset by referring to Marcel Duchamp's urinal sculpture in order to establish the futility of painting as a contemporary art practice capapble of carrying any new meanning. Although he did occasionally paint, Duchamp was never a painter.

Anonymous said...

Actually Duchamp was a painter. Not a very good one, either, which is part of the reason he went in the (nonetheless significant) direction he did.

Anonymous said...

This is fabulous! Thanks for sharing. I'm an Australian painter and was once asked by an academic “where do you fit into contemporary painting practice". The answer hinged on the fact that I would gain entry into a master’s program. Consequently I couldn’t answer adequately as I really felt that I didn't fit in. I didn't gain entry I'm glad. I don't want to 'fit' in and it is great to see that there is no real way and that experimentation with painting is the way forward. Thanks again.