Painters Panting

Painters Panting

David Diao, Craig Drennen, Saul Fletcher, Alex Hubbard, Judy Ledgerwood, Chris Martin, Jennifer West

April 13, 2012 – June 24, 2012

This exhibition draws its inspiration from Painters Painting, a 1972 documentary which examines American art movements from Abstract Expressionism to Pop. Directed by Emile de Antonio, it features candid interviews with artists Helen Frankenthaler, Jasper Johns, Barnett Newman, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol; critics Clement Greenberg and Hilton Kramer; and the collectors Philip Johnson and Robert and Ethel Scull.

The transformation of the film title into Painters Panting reveals something of the exhibition’s focus—the exasperation with and ongoing passion about “painting concerns” as evinced by painters, photographers, video artists, and filmmakers. Focusing on process and connections to art and cultural history, the participating artists infuse their chosen mediums with elaborate procedures and references to the studio, the body, commerce, design, music, and literature.

David Diao has consistently produced works that examine Modernism as well as his own career, presenting facts and figures on lush monochrome canvases. His subjects include Barnett Newman’s production and sales history, the layout and décor of The Philip Johnson Glass House, and recent auction results of his work. Craig Drennen’s paintings take their cue from Timon of Athens, an obscure play by William Shakespeare which the artist uses as the foundation for an extensive meditation on materiality and representation. With this series, Drennen is like a method actor recalling some inner truth by performing with modes of drawing, painting, and photography. Saul Fletcher creates studio-based tableaus in order to photograph them. His accumulations of blunt mark-making, discarded tree branches, and lengths of string speak to primal gestures and the passing of time in isolation. Alex Hubbard combines a wide array of materials in his playful and destructive video sequences. Spills and sprays of colorful liquids meet Mylar, flowers, and other items in slapstick-like ways, conjuring historical artists including Yves Klein, Jackson Pollock, and Piero Manzoni. Judy Ledgerwood’s wall works are an extension of her paintings, wherein she combines repeated floral designs and vibrant bands of color. In her hands, the decorative impulse becomes a profound bodily experience, exerting pressure on the eyes and the architecture. Chris Martin makes large-scale paintings that merge geometry, figuration, collage, and language in both sophisticated and crude ways. He often pays tribute to artists and musicians whose works have influenced him, using their motifs and names as referential elements. Jennifer West makes hypnotic, handmade films by combining personal or stock footage with a myriad of evocative materials including mascara, vodka, body glitter, and cherry juice. Often made in collaboration with friends and students, the finished works capture a cosmology of scratches, splotches, and flashes of light.

Accompanying the exhibition is a video of interviews with the participating artists and contemporary critics, curators, and collectors, mimicking the structure of the original film.

Craig Drennen, Painter D (detail), 2011, Graphite, spray paint, acrylic, oil, alkyd on paper, 50 × 50 inches, Courtesy the artist and SALTWORKS
Jennifer West, A 70MM Film Wearing Thick Heavy Black Liquid Eyeliner That Gets Smeary (70MM film leader lined with liquid black eyeliner, doused with Jell-O vodka shots and rubbed with body glitter), 2008, film transferred to digital video, no sound, 30 seconds, Courtesy the artist and Marc Foxx, Los Angeles

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