It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that I love painting. I also love drawing and sculpture and video and assemblage and collage and…. But I love painting in a visceral way that also makes me love to paint. I love paintings that use vibrant colors and mixed textures. I love abstractions that create space. And I especially love how painters make decisions. Thick or thin? Big or small? Square or rectangular or round or other? Orange or pink?
I love how viewers can be convinced by a door handle that is only a swipe of paint, or a face that isn’t quite there, or edges that are lost in shadow. I love how the best painters leave their pictures unfinished so that the viewer can complete the work for himself.
The subject of a painting might be a table with a vase, but the emotional content might be loneliness. Or someone else could see it as freedom. Is the paint standing in for something else? If it hugs an object on the picture plane, do you feel warmer?
Jennifer Wheeler is a talented painter (and friend) whose complex compositions reflect her subject matter of childhood, childish colors, and toys. But her content is all about intimate chaos and childhood dangers, including early sexualization. Her current solo show (through October 31) is at Three Rivers Community College Gallery in Norwich Connecticut. (http://www.threerivers.edu/Div_academics/Gallery/theGallery.shtml) You can see more of her delightful and frightening work at www.jenniferawheeler.com.
Another painter friend, Morgan Wilcox Beckwith has a solo show through September 30 at Studio M in Mystic, CT, which highlights her luscious paintings of food. (www.studiomframing.com) Like Wheeler, Beckwith often dispenses with the horizon line in order to immerse the viewer in the world she creates. Her use of paint combined with subject matter makes my mouth water. She comments on the ubiquity of food in our society and how images of food create a demand for it. In her paintings, what is making us hungry is toxic paint, not anything nutritious. Are we learning that what we crave might be fatal to us? www.morganbeckwith.com.
We are all surrounded by artists, and it is worth listening to them as well as looking at their work.