A word unspoken since Renaissance painting techniques class has resurfaced
on the tongues--and in the work--of several New York painters:
Nancy Van Deren suggests that interest in pentimenti, soft after-images of previous painting layers, reflects a fin de siecle nostalgia about the painting process.
Van Deren likes to work
backward rubbing out the top layers of paint pulling these shadowy images
out of her own work.
"Summer Warbler" Detail
Charles Hewitt sees his ghostly layers of re-worked paint as representing the richness of experiences brought to a painting. Hewitt resolves his paintings with bold, solid foreground images that probably wouldn't work without the layered substructure.
"Black Cherry" Painting
In several of his 1997-1998 paintings for the Allentown Museum Show, John Clem Clarke used fake, intentional "pentimenti" to suggest the number of variables at play--decisions great & small that might have been made otherwise--in the art process.
CLARKE Pentimenti Detail
This leads us to another hot topic in artists' studios:
art about art constructs
John Clem Clarke has a history of making art about art. In his current work, Clarke paints found objects then makes paintings of the painted objects. The end product combines objects + paintings in intriguing mixed-media pieces whose elements re-inforce one another.
Plastic Eagle Affixed to Canvas
Also working in combinations of pieces, Charles Hewitt makes small paintings then blows them up into large photocopied constructions. He likes the small painterly work to be viewed side by side with the large "artificial" construction. The magnified brushstrokes differ in impact from the original ones. Hewitt enjoys the surprisingly "faux" feeling of the enlarged strokes.
A certain willingness to cede control is another current trend:
unpredictability and randomness
Like Hewitt, Susan Kaprov enjoys the frisson of surprise when she combines the pieces of her puzzle paintings. Kaprov paints each piece individually, but doesn't plan where the piece will fit in the overall scheme of the painting. She cannot predict whether the individual element will turn out to be an assertive or supportive part of the composition.
"Matrix I" Detail
Frances Jetter is willing to use accidents in the casting process as compositional elements in her sculpture. Jetter sometimes adapts purely functional venting gates as significant design elements in her sculptures late in the production process.
"Nose" Bronze with Vastly Extended Venting Gate
View paintings, prints and sculpture by Nancy Van Deren, Charles Hewitt, John Clem Clarke, Susan Kaprov and Frances Jetter in BIDDINGTON'S Contemporary Art Gallery.