😱“I should be thrilled, but I’m terrified”😱

Hello painters,

This week I’d like to take a brief look at the work of Howardena Pindell, a painter who often incorporates collage and photography into her work. Her accomplishments are too many to list here — that would take me an entire week or more. I will instead leave you lots of links for you to explore on your own.

From a purely visual standpoint, I think of Pindell primarily as a mark maker. Her canvases are oddly shaped and covered in dots and patterns and little hatch marks. There are also subtle lines that come through, not boldly drawn, but more evoked through texture. They give the work an almost ancient feel, like these paintings were aged and weathered over time in the earth.

My favorite Pindell paintings are the brightest ones. There’s a great energy in the layering of colors here. I am intrigued by how the colors beneath and on top can be so vivid and saturated, yet they work in harmony with each other, rather than fighting for your attention.

Pindell is both a teacher and a student: she has taught at Stony Brook University since 1979, and she has also traveled the world researching and learning about cultural and artistic practices in East Asia, India, and Africa.

When she travels, she’s not simply sipping daiquiris on the beach. More meditative and investigative than a regular tourist, she developed a deep respect for the places she visited, including an extended stay in Kyoto. It was there that “the quiet reverence for nature that is characteristic of Japanese culture” was impressed upon her, which she worked to incorporate into her paintings.

What interests me perhaps the most is Pindell’s attempts to make her abstract painting autobiographical. At times, her canvases contain collaged postcards, photos, mementos from trips taken. She also experimented with tracing her body onto the canvas and incorporating her very own outline into her painting (scroll back up to the painting titled Fire: Suttee — can you see the body now?)

All of these efforts come together to form recollections and hints about her journeys and experiences. What would your canvases look like, if you were to make an autobiographical painting? What colors and images and textures would you use to describe your journeys?

This is not the way a traditional autobiography would be written, instead it’s akin to leaving little breadcrumbs around. If you’re lucky enough you can ask her, what’s this piece or that piece refer to? And Pindell, reflecting back on these little tidbits, could unravel a great tale from each one. “Each piece depicts the relationship between healing, trauma, spirituality, and other elements that have shaped the artist’s life.”

If you enjoyed the images today, you can read more about Pindell’s work as a co-founder of A.I.R. Gallery, one of the first co-operative galleries in NYC to show only female artists here. Other links below:

Howardena Pindell (artist’s website and portfolio)
Howardena Pindell at the MCA Chicago
The artist is represented by Garth Greenan Gallery

Paintings links and news

I recommend this interview with scholar Darby English (pictured above). In this article, English shares “his reflections on our current moment, how art has changed over the past several decades, and why generalizations of Black art are so problematic.”

I am pulling out a compelling thought of English’s about the role of figuration in painting. Before the storm knocked out our power I was aiming to write a little bit about the increased role that the human figure is playing in the field of painting. It’s been written about here, and there and also discussed at length on this podcast.

But perhaps English has put it in a simpler and more succinct way than I ever could (emphasis is mine):

To me, the worrisome thing about a flood of figuration is the time and resources we aren’t spending on the part of us we can’t image, the part we won’t sell, the mysteries, the fractions, the freaks. So whenever I see a figure, the first thing I need to do is to determine what it is and what it’s for. Is it a good witch or a bad witch?

There is a new book about the life and work of Arthur Dove, often considered the United State’s first abstract painter. The book, from Yale University Press, surveys the artist’s paintings, assemblages, and assorted “things” and also provides an illustrated chronology.

The NY Times is recommending several abstract art shows in galleries that are open around town. View the list here, which includes the artist Ulrike Muller (pictured above) in a show about abstract fabric & textile pieces.

And here’s the around the world part of the newsletter. I’ve been enjoying the work shown at the Australian gallery Sullivan & Strumpf, as they have an eye for big and bold abstract painting. Their latest exhibition features the artist Karen Black, who, very appropriately for this week’s loose theme, often incorporates the figure into her paintings.

Check out the show with lots of great images and quotes and a video from the artist at this link.

If you enjoyed this newsletter, you can click this button below to show your appreciation by adding to my tip jar:

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This week, I’m recommending tunes from DJ Houseplants, a musician and producer based in Seattle.

DJ Houseplants - I Don’t Mind
DJ Houseplants - All Those Nights
DJ Houseplants - Looking Over Shoulders

DJ Houseplants Guest DJ Mix on YouTube
DJ Houseplants on Bandcamp
DJ Houseplants on SoundCloud

That’s all for this week folks. See you next time, and happy painting
(° ͜ʖ͡°)

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