Gabriel Laderman 2005
Post Abstract Figuration: Paintings by the Midwest Paint Group
These artists, unlike other American figurative painters, are not involved in ironic comments about art or life. They believe in the forms and motifs, which they deal with on a daily basis, and wish to give the observer the same, intense, felt emotion, that they experienced in the process of making these paintings. They might all be called expressionists, but the earlier artists to whom their works relate are all formally intense as well as intensely expressive. Such artists as Soutine, Vlaminck, Roualt, Marquet, and Matisse (especially of the Nice period) come to mind.
----During my teaching days from about 1965 to 1995, I and a number of my colleagues in other MFA programs throughout the country (Yale, Boston University, Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, the Parsons School) were aware that the Kansas City Art Institute undergraduate painting program was the strongest in the country. All of these artists, either directly or indirectly are connected with it. The painting faculty consisted of Wilbur Neiwald (chairman), Ron Slowinski, Stanley Lewis, Lester Goldman and Michael Walling. Wilbur's first influential style was as an abstract painter influenced by earlier Mondrian. Later on he became quite figurative and was influenced by Cezanne and Corot. Ron Slowinski was an abstract painter throughout his tenure at the school. Stanley Lewis' most important teachers included Nicholas Carone, a Hofmann student, as well as Leland Bell whose early style was profoundly influenced by Arp. Lester Goldman spent a good part of his life as a post abstract figurative painter, himself, before he returned to abstraction, Michael Walling had a typical art school education (with design courses) but seems never to have left figuration (in the Nice Matisse sense) behind.
----The artists grouped here, show the evidence of their education. They are perhaps more generally committed to the motif and the kind of forming which develops the motif into a painting full of all the joys of abstraction, but in place in a landscape or figure composition. They do not turn their backs on 20th century modernism, but they can use it to step back into previous centuries and learn from constructional artists, there, too. The influence of Chardin, Corot, and the Venetians, the Dutch, and many others can be felt, and is being profitably used in their work, as well. They do represent the potential future which cares about the past and its values and cares about communicating intense emotions to the viewer. This is an unusual show by a very special group of artists. It requires your attention because it is unlike most figurative work seen in galleries, today. You need to concentrate on the experience of each painting and get into its world of forming and emotion. If you do this you will receive the wonderful gifts of these artists' fully formed emotional view of the forms, light, and color, the drama of nature.
Timothy King shows the influence of Fauve and Expressionist painters. French style expressionists, only, of course, because he is not only intensifying an experience, it is an experience with rich formal as well as emotional content. The influence of Andre Derain of the 1920s and 30s can be felt, as well as of the work of Leland Bell. Looking through them one can also see the influence of Corot, Courbet, and Constable. He seems, thus far, primarily a landscape painter. is intense reaction to the motif is played back by his paintings for us. Through his brush stroke and his inspiration, which together create the space and forms, the over all rhythm, we are meant to experience his ecstasy in the landscape.
Gabriel Laderman on Art
"I called the show "Post Abstract Figuration." The artists
Philip Hale, Bob Brock, Barbara Lea, Mike Neary, Timothy King and David Rich; had this in common, they were very well prepared to see and feel the abstract construction in nature as they painted."
Richard LaPresti II.
Nov 14, 2006
Actually, it is important to separate Richard from Cezanne, too. Recently I wrote an essay for a show of work by several Midwestern artists. I called the show "Post Abstract Figuration." The artists
Philip Hale, Bob Brock, Barbara Lea, Mike Neary, Timothy King and David Rich; had this in common, they were very well prepared to see and feel the abstract construction in nature as they painted. Their training was quite modernist, yet they used it to help realize the motif, and not depart from it. Richard has been doing this since at least 1963. He is thus a member of an older generation at work in the same way. The Midwestern painters all had some contact with people like Wilbur Neiwald, Stanley Lewis, Lester Goldman and Michael Wallin, all of whom themselves went through abstraction on the way to a figurative style. When I went to school in 1952 no self respecting young artist could work in other than an abstract style[and in Lester's case, back again]. After AE gave us carte blanche to go off on our own, as the artists of that generation had done, we found abstraction to limiting a field to remain in. Too many things had been cut off and patented by too many good artists. It seemed as though the greatest area for freedom and personal development would be in working from the motif and trying to realize it in painting. This is what Richard LaPresti tries to do. One more facet of his personality as exposed in his work needs stressing. He is a very passionate man. His paintings are, in fact meditative, but they also are full of passion. Passion for the floor, the walls, the people, their relationships, the air in the room - of course in his
interiors. And similar passion for the sky and the clouds and the air between us and them, and the land, the trees and foliage coating and sprouting from it and all of the buildings. He expresses his passion with his brush and the paints he chooses. This is sometimes why the intensity of colors is more than merely normative. The colors are exaggerated because they make more pictorial sense that way and because the exaggeration feels more right than reportage would feel. He is not reserved about his forming but full of zest and verve and passion. So we cannot discuss his color dispassionately as a constructive element, only; although, of course it is that, too.
So, there are at least two generations of such artists. Come to think of it, there are three. Originally Leland Bell, Al Kresch, Nell Blaine and Louis Matthiasdottir were also abstract painters. When they returned to figuration they did so with all the intelligence which had informed their abstract paintings. Unlike Balthus or Derain all of them were abstract artists first, before they returned to the motif.
Art Blogs: Walter, King[Walter King Artblog Headlines]
"Painting: A Silent World"
Date Published: 2007-03-03 - Time: 14:20:46
By Walter King Mar 3, 07
(This title is modified from the term silent kingdom of paint coined by Virginia Woolf)
I love quotes-- these little sound bites taken out of context because they have a life of their own. They are like little paper airplanes that one can fold from the larger bit of writing and sail through our group consciousness. Often times they seem to sum things up nicely. Or pose a question one might not have considered on ones own. It is much like making a painting or drawing in which a certain fact seems more important than some other fact. So one is erased and the other emphasized.
Somewhere I read Virginia Wolfes little snippet about the silent world of paint and it just hit me that a painting IS silent. Not mute. But silent in its mechanics of unfolding before your eyes, heart and mind. There are no blaring sounds, no birds chittering, no one screaming, no sudden movements, no flashing lights
except maybe in the viewers soul. It is a silent kingdom in which one is allowed to sort their own thoughts, query the image or themselves and reach their own conclusions. I sometimes compare it to prayer in which God and I have a conversation. I posit a scenerio and even as I begin to make my query I begin to understand what it really is I'm considering. God is often heard between the lines, in the silences.
We need to try to regain the the hidden logic of realism
once more. This logic is, one discovers, a metaphor
for the recursive boundary between painter and the
subject. The more intuited convexity and physicality are
in stark contrast to our contemporary photo centric,
cropped off and flat boxy world view. Into a painting I
express kinesthesia. My painting is about the
stereoscopic compressions, the peripheral spatial
expansions, the anamorphic distortions and the hidden position of the observer and those aspects integral with human feeling. I paint from that internal sense
of a meta-reality our total visual system provides.
Tim is my brother, also a painter. I know my brothers ideas as if they were the back of my own hand. He and I have talked many nights until dawn about what art is and is not. Weve had knock down dragged out arguments about realism. Actually we are not so far apart on the subject as we sometimes sound. The reality is, from my point of view, that it doesnt exist except as the formal elements of the medium. In two dimensions you have the basic geometry of point, line, shape, texture, tone and color. Those are the realities of two dimensions. We speak of them as abstract elements, building blocks that in themselves have no meaning yet they do have meaning. They give movement, kinetic energy, tensile quality, measurement and proportion, and even a sense of space and light from which form is intuited. Tim is right in that it is about the boundary between the artist and the reality he sees. Vision is the way across that boundary, the way through the looking glass.
"Depth in a pictorial plastic sense is not created by the arrangement of objects one after another toward a vanishing point, in the sense of Renaissance perspective, but on the contrary by the creation of forces in the sense of push and pull."
The Search for the Real and Other Essays ) Hans Hofmann
Then, if you wish, come the illusions
lovely, rhythmical, poetic, convincing, emotional, mathematical and silent representations of the objects we know from the real world. But they are only signs for those objects and as such are metaphors. In this Im sure he agrees. I know he agrees. The real world is out there where we all live breathing the same air, bathed in the same light, held down by the same gravity. Have you seen the wind? You only see it move the leaves of the tree when it passes. This silent world within meets the raucous world without
it is the push pull of our sense of existence where our inner self reaches out to touch the outer reality we all hold in common.
"We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are. ~Anais Nin"
In these last two centuries weve allowed photography and video to define reality for us as if a mechanical vision is enough. But a good photographer knows better. A good photographer knows that much is done in the dark room, well, now it is done in photo shop. And there the photographer becomes a painter. There is so ...