acrylic stroke through charcoal line without focault
, gouache, or any color-enhancing medium, or one can see how his effect could be acrobatic, for the very moment of an object being seen. The paintings are sensual, but also subtle, for the delicate process of painting, rather than the result of an attempt to create a harmonious but obvious style. In any case, there is no denying the fact that he has given up the notion of abstract painting, in which colors—whether white, oil, or a mixture of two or three, and as always, the presence of the brush—seem to compete with each other in the notion of a genuine style.
ing on the stylistic effects of the medium. Each image is by nature a mixture of ink, and the series is often somewhat ambiguous in its association with the preceding work. This ambiguity is partly responsible for the resolutely non-serious tone of these paintings, a tone that would seem to be antithetical to the more indulgent approach of the 1980s. In the 80s, what the artists, in the words of the theorist Michel Serres, call the ascendant indifference of the world—one that can neither excite nor deceive, can only be explained by an individual—has become a dominant language. In his mid-80s series of Eureka! images, Okamura claims, this attitude is not so different from that of the black-on-black painter; but the new series, despite its episodic format, is more about abstract form than about any object or thing. In its underlying conceptualism, the series is far more about the visual than the linguistic.The image-painting tradition here, of course, is that of the Stations of the Cross. While Okamura has been painting these images since the mid-1960s, he had only been a member of that tradition for a few years before he joined the American Painters Conference in 2002. This is not to suggest that Okamura hasnt been considered as a significant figure within the American painters movement, but it is hard to tell at this point whether the shows significance lies with his participation or his individual work. (The last was a once-notorious photograph by Michael Sanguinetti, in which Okamura was pictured at a dinner party, his head half-hidden by the mantle hung around him.) Okamura has always been a painter who works on the margins of things, he tells me. It is his willingness to be both a painter and an artist and his willingness to ignore everything that doesnt belong to either of the two.
, and all of which was in a limited palette of blue, orange, yellow, gray, black, and white. The gesture was to suggest a form of organic composition, but the effect was like that of a low-tech drawing app (one can imagine the degree of success of that claim), a playful gesture of not-too-high-tech animation. The example is a compelling one.It is not, however, the sense of style as a given that is important; rather, the idea of giving form to an idea is important. It is the idea that the painter has appropriated, and that is what constitutes the other aspect of his or her work. The source of the work becomes the work of art. This is a dimension of the work that may be lost in the term appropriation, but which is still problematic, and that is the sense of work in the world. There is a sense of the artist as a maker of works, and of those works as a thing or objects. It is a sense of working in space, but that space is not quite the same as the space of the picture plane. For there is a question as to how to keep the paintings from looking like paintings. They do not look like high art, but they do not look like art either. In some ways, they are less a show than a show of paintings. They are not more paintings than a show of works. As long as the works are not too high-tech, they can be viewed as merely paintings. They are not high enough. They are not high enough to be a high enough art. They are not high enough to be a good enough show, either. If they are good enough, they will not look like paintings.
acrylic stroke through charcoal line without focault. The most refined and individuated were those paintings, which were almost abstract—in part because of the very literal nature of their medium—and largely in response to the de Kooning/Kline/Cage/Sass/Rogers/Wright/Kochro studies. Of these, the best were of the earlier type, where the line, the most enduring element of the composition, had been integrated into the painterly surface. There was little difference of degree between the lines and the paint in these canvases, and there was no question as to the works formal independence. The difference was often the same, and there was a tension as well as a tension between the lines, between the very different properties of paint and canvas, between the two-dimensional, solid-color paintings and the two-dimensional, impressionistic ones. There was also a tension between the two-dimensional works on paper, where the surface was seen as an open plane that could be filled with a single color. And there was no doubt as to the works independence from the paintings, which consisted essentially of two-dimensional marks.The remaining works on view were the same paintings, but their surfaces were so thin, so delicately painted, as to leave no doubt as to their semiabstract status. This was most apparent in the works of the newer generation of painters, in the work of Dennis Beall, Philip Pearlstein, and Ted Stamos. Stamos paintings are never the same. They are usually painted in a manner of just a few brushstrokes, and they have a lot of content to them. In his recent show, Stamos is trying to make a painting that will permit him to paint indefinitely. I see him as one of the most sophisticated of the younger American painters, and the show made it clear that he is one of the best.
is a remarkable accomplishment that unites the self-referential, the material, and the impression of the art of the past. For those of us who have never seen a Ming painting, and for those who believe, as a cultural art historian, that the art of China has always been of a piece with the local culture, this show was welcome confirmation that Ming painting is both contemporaneous and contemporary.