I was once accused in the pages of a well-known local art monthly of hating painting. After much laughter with a couple of friends over a drink in the old Palace who knew my lust for wonderful pictures, I could barely resist the urge to call up the artist in question and point out that it was not painting in general that I disliked, but simply that I disliked HER painting that managed to be both grandiose and remarkably weak at the same time. Good sense, however, precluded my following through on my threat and no doubt kept a whole contingent in our small town from dissing me forevermore.
During this fortnight Santa Fe will be treated to a line-up of terrific painters whose works invite scrutiny and contemplation. Several of them have led remarkably low-key professional lives, working away largely outside the noise of major critical environments, honing their craft. Several also hark back to a seemingly anachronistic view of the role of painting, throwing around terms like "authenticity," "creative process" and "the sublime."
On Friday, September 19, Zane Bennett Contemporary Art hosts an artist's reception for an 18-year retrospective of Paul Shapiro, (Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, 435 S. Guadalupe Street, 5 - 7 pm) while Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art opens an exhibition of landscapes by Emmi Whitehorse (Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art, 439 Camino del Monte Sol, 5 -7 pm). At the same time, Linda Durham Contemporary Art (Linda Durham Contemporary Art, 1101 Paseo de Peralta, 5 - 7 pm) presents a show by Albuquerque painter Richard Hogan.
Shapiro, earlier a painter of landscape, returned to abstract painting in 1990. The show at Zane Bennett will showcase these works of the last two decades. What is fascinating to this viewer in Shapiro's work is how he maintains his gestural vitality throughout different media. This is indeed, good old-fashioned "muscular" painting. "I want to leave the door open to the endless possibilities of my creative process, always embracing the realm of uncertainty," says Shapiro. "I feel that art should function as an icon of the sublime, not a reinforcer of the mundane, so we may be reminded of beauty and what we are."
In Recommence, Whitehorse continues her remarkably prolific career. Whitehorse's art constantly imbues the picture plane with memory, using lyrical traces of thoughts and places to ground the work not in literal landscape or memory but in the liminal space occupied by the fleeting and daydreaming mind. "My work," she writes, "is about and has always been about land, about being aware of our surroundings and appreciating the beauty of nature. I am concerned that we are no longer aware of those. The calm and beauty that is in my work I hope serves as a reminder of what is underfoot, of the exchange we make with nature. Light, space and color are the axis around which my work evolves."
Hogan's paintings concentrate on relationship between color and geometry. These explorations can vary between a light, almost ethereal palette, severe black, white and gray, or, most recently, dense colors on variegated ground. Critic William Peterson has said of the painter's work that, "possibilities of togetherness"¦must be won by attentiveness and candor, and by acknowledgement that separateness is a shared condition." be won by attentiveness and candor, and by acknowledgement that
Saturday, September 20 Santa Fe-New York-Mexican Ricardo Mazal displays his new work at Dwight Hackett Projects (Dwight Hackett Projects, 2879 All Trades Road, 3 - 5 pm). In Odenwald 1152, Mazal uses photographs as the aesthetic base layer in what become stunning abstract paintings. The artist wanted to depict the light through the trees as if it were refracted through stained glass. That sense of refracted, segmented light in turn becomes a way to fragment the picture plane and dissipate attention. Odenwald 1152 is the second in a trilogy of projects that began with la Tumba de la Reina Roja.
On Friday, September 26, William Siegal Gallery (William Siegal Gallery, 540 S. Guadalupe Street, 5 -7 pm) opens its doors with a reception for a solo show of work by Zachariah Rieke. Rieke returns to color in these canvases, resulting in exuberant, downright joyous work. Unlike much of the artist's often cerebral work that involves destruction and reformulation, these paintings are constructive and indelible. The process of paint drifting and staining the canvas means that Rieke can only go forward in creating the work. "My own method of painting entails finding the image in the course of working. In practical terms this means beginning with a color, line, or form, and then responding to that seminal move in a non-premeditated way. The first mark may arise from either a conscious idea or an intuitive feeling. Each response is followed in turn by another in the developing dynamic."
So go, look, enjoy and indulge in visions of several unrepentant painters!