Eight of the artists chosen are new to me and their work has never before appeared in my blog. Eight are North American, but I am pleased to include Susannah Martin (Germany) and Martin Llamedo (Argentina) to add some international flavor. Five of the artists are women and five are men: I didn't plan that, it just worked out that way.
It also appears that I tend to favor mature artists who have been working hard for a long time. I really like what writer Malcom Gladwell says about effort as I think it applies very well to art-making:
If you work hard enough and assert yourself, and use your mind and imagination, you can shape the world to your desires.
When I interviewed him in July, the artist Bo Bartlett told me that "To be earnest is the greatest taboo in contemporary art." I must have very taboo taste, because I have found myself attracted to very earnest paintings. I'm into sincerity, meaning, skill and catharsis and I apparently am leaning towards representation, which looks fresher and fresher to me each day. This is a sincere and large-hearted group of paintings that has a lot to say about the human situation. The human figure remains hugely compelling to me as it will always carry such a variety of meanings with infinite flexibility. Female figures seem to dominate this year's selection.
With each of the paintings below I am including some remarks by its creator to help support the visual elements. Of course, words are always second best: with or without the comments I have provided these paintings make powerful visual statements on their own. These are great paintings, and all of them are fresh off the easel: they give me hope for the future of painting.
So, I painted five paintings for my sister Laurie, sometimes just incorporating the letters from her name, sometimes using words and fragments from songs. Sometimes the word death appears and then disappears. The paintings then became a meditation not so much on loss but on "LIFE" about how beautiful and fragile this all is..
In the painting Tea an illusory female figure pours tea over a European style tea table. Frivolity and irony are manifested in the way that the ritual has been modified to include the image of a woman preparing tea on herself. This table -- set for tea -- with its fabric elements, forms the woman's bed covered by sheets that envelop her. Her clothes are like centerpieces (woven lacework) demonstrating that this ritual is deeply embedded in her.
Sitting down to tea often mean time spent communicating with others: hence the four cups. But in this work one sees an illusory figure incarnated for just a moment, perhaps a memory that is about to be lost. Dressed in memories perhaps the figure is prepared to accept her destiny: her eyes, hands and body tell us about this. However, we also discern another person who completes this moment, and that person is herself, with her face hidden outside the painting, perhaps deceiving herself.
This single act of drinking tea manifests a simple truth: that we have just ourselves in life.
With these nudes I am attempting both to challenge the traditional role of the nude in art, that is to provide an aesthetically pleasing object of visual/sexual consumption, and to poke a finger in the open wound of our current human displacement. So doing, I hope to trigger contemplation on the causes and effects of the treasonous abuse and subsequent loss of our eco-system home.
Gorge is a particularly confrontational representation of man in nature. The painting focuses on the existential experience of a young woman at the moment of enlightened awareness of her unity with the life force. This is an experience which I provoke with my models outdoors and which I attempt to record or describe in my work.
- Jeremy Lipking, quoted in The Art of the Portrait, The Journal of the Portrait Society of America (volume XI, Issue 46)
Her unexpected evolution happened as I was photographing a model named Kaitlin on a steamy summer day. The warehouse where we were shooting was sweltering. Her flame-colored hair was frizzing wildly and we were both sizzling. Postponing for a cooler day wasn't an option, so I took a run to the local golden arches for more water. On a lark, I ordered a happy meal. I soon learned that Kaitlin, enviously thin, loved her fries. The misery of the heat and humidity evaporated as she savored the salty spuds. And all my preconceived ideas about what I wanted to capture with Kaitlin also evaporated as we went with the moment prompted by an opportune treat.
What was amazing about this painting was that while looking at it when it was done I said: "Wow, this was my childhood." My mother was very dominating and overwhelming and throughout my life I have often felt that if i didn't have a leg to stand on she would devour me (emotionally) and there it was in front of me with only one leg and my mother demanding the whole space. A meaning as strong and clear as that doesn't always reveal itself but it did in this painting, and when that happens it's so fulfilling and significant.