Painting never dies. It may be rounded upon with each evolution at the frontline of the artistic landscape but it doesn’t succumb. Interventions, performances and installations explode around it but the convoy of painting rolls determinedly on.
While many artists make their initial foray through painting before abandoning the canvas in pursuit of creative emancipation, they often return to the melting seduction of those ripe and siren colors, for painting never entirely lets you go and one’s romance with the medium is hard to recover from.
Painting retains the strongest associations with the wider public perception of what art is and this makes working with it perhaps the most difficult path to tread; change is demanded and yet suspected. Painting’s visibility, its cultural history and ubiquitous presence from the glittering bastions of high art to the humblest private dwellings mean that regardless of education, taste or economic ability everyone in or outside of the contemporary art environment has an awareness of its function, can own a painting and has some understanding of its raison d’être.
Multiple art worlds further complicate the painter’s route from the oft derided kitsch and domestic spectacle of popular artists such as Thomas Kinkade to the lauded and revered formality of Ellsworth Kelly and beyond. While these art worlds may sneer at each other and may never meet, this wide spectrum of social tastes undeniably exists and it validates the full scope of human interest in painting, allowing everyone an opinion.
Such universal familiarity across social and intellectual groups casts a searchlight upon those who attempt to convey ideas through the faded glory of paint, for there can be no short cuts to forging a new direction as there may be with newer less structured mediums. Painting has been worked hard; it is everywhere; it often appears exhausted and too often crushed under the weight of its own success and it provides no laurels to rest upon.
All that has come before has added to the narrowing field of possibility to create something new and this ironically places on the frontier not performance, sound or new technology artists but painters. To be seen and heard among the cacophonous furnace of their medium’s legacy they must engage hard and fast at the coal face, for undiscovered seams.
The setting of the National Arts Club for this show is specific. A grand domestic environment stuffed with paintings of yesteryear, sculptures and objet d’art; it is a museum-like curiosity within which time can seem to stand still; presenting this collection of new paintings creates a slight tear; a rip in the artistic space-time continuum.
Phenomena project is a non-profit organization based in New York City. Journalist Madina Stepanchenko created this institution to profer an alternative mind set; to suggest a different way to consider the world around us. Contemporary art is a catalyst of social progress and this is reflected in Phenomena’s mission.
The most recent projects organized for Trinity Museum show its commitment to these intentions. The group exhibition All Insignificant Things Must Disappear offered alternative ways to see the volatility of our recent past during the financial crisis, fostering discussion for the road ahead.
The second show Writes of Passage was about how we express ourselves through the written word in our rapidly evolving technological age. A large scale sculptural likeness of St. Peter’s cross provided a contemplative centerpiece for this exhibit, highlighting the social responsibility that we all share.
This current project at the National Arts Club is a more intuitive response to how we approach making the world a better place. It is a dive into the sphere of social relationships and our painted surroundings; Phenomena invites the exhibition guests to do the same! The overwrought romanticism of I love you so much that even when you are lying next to me I miss you refers to the feelings that we have toward the greatest of artistic mediums. What else if not love, to achieve social progress...