Saturday, May 15, 2010

Trudy Benson

Tape Deck 2010
oil and acrylic on canvas
66 x72 inches
Image from: Freight and Volume

Been thinking a lot lately about how to make a painting in these times, how to stay connected and to feel that painting is relevant. I like painting that adds to a dialogue about materials, the craft, the effort. I love these paintings by Trudy Benson - a New York painter who is currently having a show at Freight and Volume Gallery. Why? I think the press release says it all:

Working in the rich abstract vein of Hodgkin, Oehlen, and Murray, Benson conjures up a dazzling theatre of mark making and pure delight in paint. She is unafraid to explore new avenues of proof that painting never dies, it only becomes more emphatically alive in its varied and stubborn pleasures. Benson provides a framework of superimposed and overlapping picture planes, thick sculptural relief, and brash color to convey this enjoyment. From subtle vignettes such as "Basketball" to bold tableaus such as "Space Jam 1" and "Painting", we share in the artist’s unbridled enthusiasm for the medium..... read more here.

So yeah, 'pure delight in paint'. I can't ask for more.

Here's a link to James Kalm's video of the opening night. Thanks to Untitled Painter for drawing my attention to it.

19 comments:

vincenthawkins said...

very interesting,they are deceptive I would imagine them to be quite domestic in scale but are fairly large. I love the variations in the work. I am reminded of Merlin James a lot. They look strong and powerful paintings .

vc said...

These aren't doing it for me. I find the blurred gradations in the backgrounds and the alternating color-ropes too familiar, kind of academic. Very skillful and accomplished, but it doesn't reinvent painting.

undercover painter said...

Hi VH and VC, thanks for commenting.

Vincent, I love Merlin James and have wanted to post something about him for a while. I'm not reminded of him in relation to Benson. I'm interested in how you see the two related, though.

VC, the image I posted is not my favourite but I couldn't capture any of the other images on the site. I would agree that they don't reinvent painting. Indeed that would be a mightily tall order.

I don't see academic. I think I'm responding to the marks and the playfulness with which they have been applied (though I've only seen them in Jpeg form). Thick, pasty, swirly, straight from the tube or even off the bottom of a shoe! There is also an abandonment of aesthetic, in the sense that colour, space and form abandon prettiness (such as Gothic Highway), that I like - a visual dissonance if you will. I have seen it before too ( Pia Fries or even allison schulnik comes to mind).....and some of those arching, stretchy shapes remind me of Amy Sillman.

vincenthawkins said...

there was a show of his i saw in london last year and I can't for the love of... find any suitable imagery from that show on line ...Pah !
http://www.mummeryschnelle.com/pastpages/merlin1.htm
... this will not suffice either but i will give it a go ! It's not really going to give you much to look at I am afraid.. .This particular show included a lot of what seemed like 'interiors' made up of bright coloured slats over heavily worked dark grounds and I thought that Benson had been looking at this stuff .Yes ,Silman came to my mind. I think I was quite stimulated by the kind of playfulness in Benson's painting , I always respond to that because it is about searching for something.Trying to be 'open'.
I find it interesting the relationship between the oversized heads she was making the year before these latest "abstract" works....... but for what reason exactly? I am pondering .

undercover painter said...

"Trying to be 'open'." Good one. Thanks Vincent. Like I said in my opening...I really appreciate her work because they restore my faith in painting; in the ACT of painting rather than the pursuit of a final product.

vincenthawkins said...

"Well what matters is the action,not the target .Of course one needs general ideas, but they must be so deep-rooted, so profound, that one hardly knows one has them.You have to start out in a certain direction, and keep to it,but in the way that migratory birds follow a line instinctively,without knowledge. I believe the artist ought to be like that. "
Jean Renoir, film maker

vc said...

fair enough. Thanks for not being London Painters. (seen that lately?)

vincenthawkins said...

indeed....LP requested "time out" ....good call......

undercover painter said...

I'm not happy that LP has gone. Am I right in saying that all the archives have been wiped? It looks like they have. I've been posting over at Sydney Painting...The site manager is keen to keep it critical without the bitchie bite! There are also Chicago, Dallas and MexicoCity painting blogs. Hopefully LP will be back, though.

Vincent, thanks for that quote...It's pinned to my studio wall!

UNTITLED said...

Hi People.

James Kalm has uploaded a new video on the show.

http://www.youtube.com/user/jameskalm

I like them a lot more having seen the video. Before I wasnt so aware of all that squeezed paint, very confident.

I was reminded of Eric Sall rather a lot.

vc said...

Sall, yes. She was in undergrad at VCU while he was in the MFA prog. Now I'm not saying she's copying, but I can imagine that flavor of all out joy tempered by a distanced knowing perspective of painting as language are easy to catch.

undercover painter said...

Thanks, Untitled, for the link to James Kalm's vid. I've added it to the post. I love that the word 'fetishise' was used.

UNTITLED said...

No problem, hope you enjoyed.

UNTITLED said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kalm james said...

Martin Bromirski has posted a blurb at his anaba site which sees a blatant (bizarre) derivation of Benson's work from Eric Sall's. Though these pieces "don't reinvent painting" (please tell me who the last painter was who did that) there is a shared approach.
Here's a link to an Eric Sall show from a couple of years ago so folks can check it out for themselves: (sorry for the poor video quality) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0ouNP867Wc

vc said...

re: "reinvention" I admit to some overheated rhetoric there, but I do think Benson is too accepting of existing tropes. Perhaps instead of reinvention what I crave is a pushing against the terms as they are understood. As an example, I would say Varda Caivano does this in a way that Maureen Gallace does not, in the realm of modest painterly faceting, whether abstract or representational. Whereas Benson shows that abstraction can be pictured, like Sall does, like Lasker does, like Heilmann does.

kalm james said...

The whole question of influence is so complex that it can't be solved here. Briefly, every artist draws from other artists. Most viewers need an introduction to a painting or painter to be able to "see" them. Truly original work will be invisible, not because it's not there, but because the mind of the viewer can only perceive what it's capable of. The truly original artist will suffer general rejection. Those who barrow the ideas and mix them into a palatable formula will be the ones who gain the credit and the market for the ideas.

I think the the question of the market is a major part of this discussion.

undercover painter said...

Hi James, Thanks for the link to that video. There is most definitely a similarity here though Sall's paintings seem a bit looser....less, maybe, academic, as VC put it. (now I can see what you mean, VC).

vincenthawkins said...

Varda Caivano always gets a big gold star from me ... and I would agree with what vc says entirely , especially re the tropes used in Benson's...I would sooner see she take only a few of the forms she uses and work on them instead of having so many.
But I rather like her optimism and sense of energy in these paintings

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