VOTE NOW! NAP ANNUAL PRIZE: 2014 READER’S CHOICE POLL
Well, now it is your opportunity to help us turn 12 artists into 1. Below, you will find 2014’s twelve Noteworthy artists listed, along with an image and brief commentary. One of these 12 artists will be named the New American Paintings Artist of the Year! In addition to being featured again in our 2015 June/July issue, the winner of the Reader’s Choice Annual Prize will receive a cash prize of $500 and a $1,000 Blick Art Materials gift certificate sponsored by:
Cast your vote by Sunday January 18 (Midnight EST). The winner of the Reader’s Choice poll will be announced on Wednesday, January 21st.
We want to thank all of the artists who trusted us with their work in 2014. One vote per person will be counted!
Learn more about each artist after the jump!
Like many of the most prized paintings in the field today, Seth Adelsberger’s work involves use of the stylistic conventions of minimalism to interrogate the relationship between technology and contemporary visual culture. By harnessing the chemical behavior of paint, he makes images that resonate with the little screens our poor eyes are constantly looking into these days. We like the work of Conrad Mecheski for the opposite reason. There should be plenty of room for both images that make perfect sense and for ones that make very little.
All artists are, of course, interested in communicating with their audience on some level. For painters that communication is nonverbal. David Aylsworth views the activity of painting as a sort of dialogue in which future moves are essentially responses to previous actions. This is a view shared by many abstract painters, and to an extent this internal conversation ultimately determines the content of their work. As the titles of his paintings may suggest, Aylsworth wants something more. The titles, and the associations they trigger, offer his audience a way to more directly enter the conversation.
As a graduate of the conservative yet well-respected New York Academy of Art, Jenny Brillhart has serious technical chops, and the way she chooses to unleash her skills is both surprising and innovative. In her work, Brillhart sets up a dialogue between made and found spaces and forms, and critiques both their structure and function. The territory between representation and abstraction is well explored, but Brillhart has found some fresh dirt to dig around in. Ultimately, her work gives the viewer a more untrammeled sense of the language of painting.
We are confessed junkies of abstract painting of a certain type, exemplified by artists such as James Siena and Thomas Nozkowski. These artists share a deep respect for their medium, a predilection for a wonky line, which is both unsure and necessary, and a structured yet intuitive sense of pictorial organization. Michael Hunter works at a larger scale than the aforementioned artists, but manages to keep everything under control. His works evince a probing quality that makes viewers feel as though they were encountering visual residue of the inner workings of the artist’s searching mind.
We first came across James Hyde’s work in the mid-1990s at the Angles Gallery, then located in Santa Monica. This was early in my career, when my thoughts about contemporary art were still being formed. We were challenged by Hyde’s sculpture/painting hybrid at that time, and I continue to be challenged by his work whenever I come across it. Testing the boundaries of painting, he explores physicality in a variety of non-traditional materials. In the work presented here, he paints over photographs; by doing so, he “constructs a logic and brings the experience of the work into the physical present.”
Dan Lam’s distinctive large-scale paintings simultaneously repel and attract. They are contradictorily beautiful and hideous. The bright, biomorphic accumulations of polyurethane or insulation spray foam are painted with intensely hued resin and acrylic pigments that suggest the natural forms of volcanic lava, geodes, flowers, mollusk colonies, and crystals. The bubbling, oozing, primordial-seeming accretions look as if they were erupting from the canvas, revealing rather than obscuring a powerful, generative force that is hidden within. In the process of contrasting what is buried and what surfaces, Lam challenges the viewer to reconsider the boundaries of both painting and sculpture.
In a time when many emerging artists are defining their individual practices by the novel ways in which they work, it is refreshing to see a painter deeply concerned with image and the potential of the medium of paint. The images that occupy Murray’s often large-scale works are drawn from his personal experiences. Working from memory, he engages in a complex dialogue with his chosen subjects and the surface of each work. When completed, the paintings reveal Murray’s layered attempts to “depict” a given image, and so poignantly speak to the space between memory and reality, the subjective and the objective.
Today’s multidisciplinary artistic practices contribute to an ever widening definition of what constitutes “painting”: We do not meet many painters per se, as opposed to artists who make paintings in addition to other kinds of work: When Meghan Olson confines her surface to the historically loaded rectangular format, she transcends it with sculptural relief that simultaneously projects into space and reinforces flatness. When she explores color, she activates the shadows cast by objects rather than the objects’ surfaces themselves. Her work is playful, elegant, and timely.
Deborah Oropallo has been an institution in the Bay Area since the mid-1980s. While her subject has changed over the years, her exploration of the intersection of painting and photography has remained a constant. Demonstrating her extraordinary technical abilities in a variety of media, both traditional and digital, her latest work is inspired by the animals that surround her on her farm in Northern California. In these paintings, Oropallo ponders the relationships between man and animals, animals and food, and—ultimately—between man and nature.
Allison Reimus’s modest paintings have a super-sized impact. They are rich in color, design, and allusion (and gold, in some cases), referencing art and objects both ancient and modern. Like Reimus, we are interested in work that has both abstract and representational qualities, and her source imagery (quilts, vessels) speaks to design in the domestic sphere. Her recent Paint Pitcher, a mix of oil, spray paint, and glitter, is an arresting image that plays with pictorial space and curiously recalls ancient Greek pottery as well as the profiles of Philip Guston.
The transcendent subtlety and quietude of Blaise Rosenthal’s intricate compositions in charcoal and acrylic on canvas is immediately captivating. His softly wavering, almost flickering, striations evoke the ascetic quality of Agnes Martin’s grid paintings of the 1960s and ’70s, while his manner of binding canvases together to form multipartite compositions signals a contemporary understanding of how to push the medium in new directions. Although this artist is self-taught, his formal excellence, evident commitment to process, and sophisticated understanding of his medium set these abstractions apart. Despite the apparent simplicity of his work’s construction, these paintings are redolent with nuance and complexity.
Lauren L. Salazar
The works of Lauren L. Salazar demonstrate the capacity of a canvas and frame to become the very subject of painting. She brings the traditions of textile production to bear on painting, with her incisions into the canvas transforming it from a continuous support structure into a grid of varied hues and textures. With the frame painted in bright or bold colors, Salazar toys with our assumptions of what it means to produce a painting, and the relative importance of surface. Billowing out from the frame, stretching toward the floor, or slicing up the pristine surface with lines and colorful patterns, her canvases force a rethinking of painting as a contained or discrete object. Instead, they offer a broader and richer proposition for painting—one that extends well beyond the frame to project assertively into the space of the viewer.