Making The Paint Dance: Six Abstract Artists of Our Time

  • Guest Curated and Written by Peter Frank

  • What does abstract painting “mean?” It means as many things as there are artists making it.
    Indeed, it means as many things, on all levels of human experience, as there are abstract
    artworks. Abstraction is a common language of sorts, a lingua franca, a church Latin whose
    dialects are a thousand-fold. And, like language, you can learn it from the outside in, but you
    can speak it – you can paint it – from the inside out.
    Abstraction is what the camera left behind when it relieved painting of its indexical role in
    modern society. Although figurative art has continued its own evolution, and figurative artists
    continue to invent new images and new contexts, the artistic reasoning, and feeling, unleashed
    in the freeing of painting from mimesis has developed and blossomed for over a century –
    really nearly two, if you consider abstraction “conceived” by the emergence of photography ca.
    1839.

  • Gesture, pattern, color dynamics (for their own sake), radical composition, evocative texture,
    and other self-sustaining qualities of optical presentation comprise the vocabulary of
    abstraction. Painters are the poets employing this vocabulary. Their elliptical approach to the
    expression of sensation, of emotion, of concept is jealously guarded by those who would assign
    the literal to the news headlines – and equally by those who find the headlines themselves a
    stimulus to abstract thought. Abstraction does not simply include the mundane in its
    consideration, and re-fashioning, of the world, it celebrates the offhand and the minute with
    the same zest as it does the grand gesture and monumental purpose.

  • The half-dozen abstract painters gathered here, represented by works produced in the last
    several years, continue a tradition of oblique discourse – of statements made in a manner that
    anyone can choose to grasp – begun over a century ago, a half century after photography took
    over the pictorial space in our minds. The vast variety of such discourse is barely skimmed by six
    artists’ work; but this selection alone presents so many approaches to the assembling of shape
    and nuance that we come to expect the unanticipated – what forms, what colors, what
    sequences, what clouds of thought comprise these paintings, and by extension comprise
    human perception.

  • All six painters here inherit the visual framework of their predecessors – abstract and otherwise
    – while seeking to build on rather merely recapitulate earlier approaches. Even the most “traditional” work in the show, the eloquently composed, even choreographed, canvases of Gail Winbury, extends the classical underpinnings of mid-20 th century abstraction, giving it a lyricism and wit that Winbury brings together with seemingly little effort. Every stroke and shape, of course, is determined with utmost care, of course, but what emerges is not the
    trappings of design but the lineaments of artistic personality.

  • Gail Winbury Gail Winbury Gail Winbury Gail Winbury Gail Winbury Gail Winbury Gail Winbury

    Gail Winbury

  • John Kingerlee, too, composes with care, but does so to provide a coherent substructure ordering a mass of painterly textures and small collaged elements seemingly added like spice, Salting his gritty, luminous fields of
    pigment with such foreign, even dissonant, image-materials as postage stamps and magazine 

    cutouts, Kingerlee calls into question the very nature of abstraction, inquiring as to the limits of
    the purely non-objective and the meaning and function of imagery in this context.

  • John Kingerlee John Kingerlee John Kingerlee John Kingerlee John Kingerlee John Kingerlee

    John Kingerlee

  • Gesturality itself drives Dellamarie Parrilli's and Eric Sanders' painting, even - perhaps
    especially - when subject to quasi-sculptural treatment in Parrilli's shaped cut out on poly carbon or hinting
    at figurative, or at least referential, elements in Sanders' work. Both painters employ
    techniques associated with American abstract expressionism, notably the drip and the push-
    pull relationship between figure and ground; and both recognize the need to resolve the
    disparities, visual and physical, between these methods. Color would seem the motivation to
    paint in both artists' cases, and the range and vivacity of their palettes prove crucial in
    attracting even the casual eye. But, again, like the original abstract expressionists - and like
    their peers here - Sanders and Perrilli undergird their work with a sense of rhythm and reason.
    These paintings contain chaos - in both sense of the word "contain."

  • Dellamarie Parrilli Dellamarie Parrilli Dellamarie Parrilli Dellamarie Parrilli Dellamarie Parrilli Dellamarie Parrilli Dellamarie Parrilli Dellamarie Parrilli

    Dellamarie Parrilli

  • Eric Sanders Eric Sanders Eric Sanders Eric Sanders Eric Sanders Eric Sanders Eric Sanders Eric Sanders

    Eric Sanders

  • Francie Lyshak pushes the gestural approach yet further, formulating monochrome panels
    scarified with lines, loops, and other grooves that serve to articulate what would otherwise be
    flat, almost un-nuanced fields of color. By marking her surfaces this way, Lyshak emphasizes the
    facture of her pigments (and even their supports). She also allows in qualities of appearance -
    line, contour, pattern - that pull attention to the dynamic between stasis (in the monochrome)
    and mutability (in the gestures).

  • Francie Lyshak Francie Lyshak Francie Lyshak Francie Lyshak Francie Lyshak Francie Lyshak Francie Lyshak Francie Lyshak Francie Lyshak

    Francie Lyshak

  • Michel Goldberg's approach also conflates arguably
    competitive factors, in his case between contour - or, if you would, silhouette - and textural
    nuance, set off starkly by his evacuation of color in favor of a gray-scale palette, heavy on the
    blacker side. Like Lyshak, Goldberg is proposing that we think about what we are looking at in a
    non-subjective manner. That is to say, the contents of the work (despite - or perhaps ironically
    because of - representational inferences) propose the experiential and even conceptual
    autonomy of material and form.

  • Michel Goldberg Michel Goldberg Michel Goldberg Michel Goldberg Michel Goldberg Michel Goldberg Michel Goldberg

    Michel Goldberg

  • Despite occasional allusions to the "real" world, the paintings comprising "Making the Paint
    Dance" are all about their own selves - and/or about the condition of such self-referentiality.
    These are presences, not pictures. These are things, not images. These dance before our eyes,
    despite their actual stasis, inviting us to regard artworks as things in themselves - albeit things
    that have a movement and a vigor to them. However illusory, this energy is contagious. If these
    painters make the paint dance, the paint can make you dance.

    Peter Frank
    Los Angeles
    August 2022