Wordless Wedesday: Peri Schwartz
Steve Huston’s images of boxers, with their fluid brushwork, electric with energy, recall the work of George Bellows in their portrayal of the power of the human form. Muscles are shown with extraordinary tension and dynamism, put into relief through dramatic use of chiaroscuro.
Huston’s sense of design is impressive to say the least. Your eye is led around the canvas, allowed to dwell in certain areas, before being flung to the next, pulled along by a swell of musculature, light and movement. His images of labourers again display this strength in the male form, which Huston delights in painting.
When he occaisionally puts his hand to painting women, Huston shows a different sensibility for sensitive almost fragile simplicity.
Kate Lehman teaches alongside Jacob Collins, Michael Grimaldi and Dan Thompson. With those big names of the contemporary realist scene, Lehman really holds her own. Many who train in the way she has, become slightly inferior imitators of their instructors, but she displays what can and should be done with all that learning. She has taken on all the solid foundation of those schools, but remains her own artist.
Her work shows no formula, but rather an approach. She observes nature with a highly trained eye and from that creates an image. The image is her own creation. That is not to say she takes a loose interpretation of nature, but that she remains the artist, making creative decisions, enhancements and omissions.
I find Kate Lehman’s work encouraging in many ways. It shows that there are artists who are creative with what they’ve learned, without being dogmatically “new” or avant-garde, or dogmatically sticking to what they were taught. It appears very natural, the way her work has developed, rather than a forced manner. She paints a wide range of subjects, not limiting herself to one area as so many do when they arrive at a new style of their own. It will be interesting to see what direction her work takes next.
Nicholás Uribe from Columbia is a painter whose website it is worth spending a good while having a look around. It’s a nice website, and you can see all of his paintings in very high resolution. He has loads of pictures to see, going back a number of years, showing the development and progression of his work. But mostly it’s because his work is so compelling to look at.
Largely figurative, Uribe’s paintings have and interesting look to them. For a while he removed pretty much all colour from his palette, to concentrate on the effects of tone. Then it seems he limited his tonal range, to see how far a limited range of values could be pushed, creating these eery pale grey images, of haunting lonely figures. You can see his experiments with all sorts of ideas as you look throug his portfolio: integrating cubist ideas with naturalism; integrating elements of pop art and comic art with naturalism. More recently he has been painting on photographs, and even on prints of masterpaintings by painters such as Rembrandt and Velazquez. To see these developments is exciting to watch, and with Uribe’s technique is as superbly strong as it is, it is a delight.
Where to begin on Jeremy Lipking? This thirty-something has a whirlwind of excitement around him, with countless people trying to imitate everything about him down to his manner of painting a signature. His work is being snapped up left right and centre and he is in demand as a teacher. What is it about his paintings that appeals, and I must say that they do have a particular appeal about them.
His subject matter is varied. In fact, he seems to be able to put his hand to just about anything: figure; still life; landscape. What makes seperates him from countless people working in a similar vein is a rock solid control of values. Lipking picks up on the very subtle nuances of colour and value and puts them on canvas with such confident fluid strokes that one can only admire. His colour choices have a conscious impact on the feeling of the paintings. Conceptually, and as far as subject matter is concerned, Lipking’s work is not particularly challenging but when paintings have such strong aesthetic appeal, I end up thinking like Whistler when he said :
“Art should be independent of all clap-trap – should stand alone, and appeal to the artistic sense of eye or ear, without confounding this with emotions entirely foreign to it, as devotion, pity, love, patriotism and the like.”
If it’s beautiful, why not? Has beauty not a value in and of itself after all?
Mark Demsteader’s work displays the simple joy of drawing from life. Though his work is repetitive and can feel somewhat formulaic, he manages to retain an intensity and focus in each piece. Most of his work consists of charcoal drawings of single figures, usualy women, on a blank background with gouache to pull out the lights. It is clear he is interested in both line and form, and seems to refuse to make a choice to go exclusively for either.
The simplicity of his work, the lack of background and lack or narrative, allows the figure to be a subject in and of itself. It is clear he spends a great deal of time selecting poses, reaching for the most graceful, the most beautiful line, and the most interesting shadow patterns.
It is unsurprising that his work sells well. If you like one piece, you’ll probably like most of them. They are skillfully executed and display that balance between the traditional and the modern. What interests me most is his painted work. He does far fewer paintings than drawings, but the ones he does have an atmosphere of longing, emotion and spirituality that is not so present in his charcoal work.
Mark Demsteader’s gallery has many more images
Google him for lots of other galleries stocking his work, with additional images.
Brendan Kelly, though a member of the Royal Society of Portrait artists, paints pictures of a much greater complexity than the title ‘portrait artist’ might suggest. While his website talks rather pretentiously of portraiture as a means to understanding that most trendy of topics in art schools, the human condition, Kelly’s paintings do in fact seem to explore something about how we interact and view each other in the contemporary world.
He does this mostly through the use of light. Now light has been a fascination for artists for centuries, what make’s Kelly different is that he aims to capture light that is particulare to the modern world. The harsh artificial lights of the modern world have a different psycholigical impact to the soft almost spiritual light of the natural world.
Strip lighting, light-emitting coke machines, and bright sunlight divided into sharp regular areas by windows all put Kelly’s work in a resolutely 21st century setting. To me, his work seems to suggest how all these artificial light can be blinding, preventing communication. In some paintings, the faces are hard to make out, being outshone by the bright light nearby. There is an stifling awkwardness and a buzzing stillness that one finds in Hopper’s great works. The figures seem unsatisfied with the space in which they find themselves.
I suppose my favourite contemporary artist would be a good place to start this blog. Alex Kanevsky’s paintings have, for me, something of the qualities of memories. Their ephemeral forms have mesmerising rhythm in their broken edges and vibration in their colour relationships. His work represents exactly the kind of direction I’m interested in seeing contemporary art take. It is visually captivating, taking influence from both classical naturalism and abstract expressionism, communicating a contemporary concept.
His work has been compared to Jenny Saville, for the use of paint. This is particularly evident in his large nudes. However, while Jenny Saville talks of painting with the paint as a kind of flesh that can be manipulated on a canvas, Alex Kanevsky seems to be less concerned with the physicality of his subject. By that I mean, one doesn’t feel so much the physical weight of a figure in one of his paintings, but more the atmospheric presence. It is like a mental image, flickering into existance momentarily, captured in paint. Distortions, uncertainties and all.