The Idea of Painting

76 - Automne 2012

Theme: Painting has more often than once been declared dead, yet it has nevertheless remained at the heart of artistic practices. The revival of interest that painting seems to be enjoying today has thus inspired the magazine esse arts + opinions to further explore this phenomenon. What to think of the dramatic “reappearance” of gestuality and technical virtuosity in the practice of the medium? Also, what can be said of the general scepticism directed towards painting for its supposed “natural” complicity with the art market? What about the notions of the window, the screen, and tableau, which have provided painting with its various theoretical models throughout history?


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Articles à la pièce

Oli Sorenson
Marie-Eve Beaupré
Serge Murphy
Laurier Lacroix
Andria Minicucci
Jakub Zdebik
Marta Jecu
Mélanie Boucher
Kathleen Ritter
Édith-Anne Pageot
Kathleen Ritter

The Idea of Painting

The Idea of Painting

Flirting with Death: Dispatches along 19th to 21st Century Painting
Painting has suffered at least a half dozen major existential blows since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, starting with Hippolyte Delaroche declaring “from today, painting is dead” in 1839, when he first set eyes on daguerrotypes. Debates still rage today about whether photography, with its more effective means of documentation, has killed off painting. But there must be more to painting than the territories claimed by photography, since it certainly hasn’t lost any of its appeal to audiences. Moreover, painting remains the dominant commodity: of the ten top-selling artists at auctions worldwide, nine are painters. [Joe Bradley, Michael Dumontier & Neil Farber, Jacob Kassay, Michael Riedel, Janet Wernet]

The Object of the Idea
The author addresses the idea of painting as an historical construct whose process of constitution echoes the method elaborated by Eric Cameron in his Thick Paintings. History is not static, but rather a material with which to work. The knowledge which has fuelled the definition of painting has coalesced on the “object of the idea” and progressively altered the contours of its definition.

Guy Pellerin. Painting Distance (a Mental Construction made Visible)
Guy Pellerin’s work is of painting. It expresses itself in the nooks and crannies of consciousness, playing on memory and nostalgia. The subject, apparently absent, is its driving force. Conceptual in nature, its physical character is pushed to the foreground, with colour as its principal agency. Guy Pellerin’s unquestionably serial painting is built upon the real, a real stripped of its expressionistic and fantastical attributes, preserving only an image in which colour plays a synthetic role. The artist paints the distance between himself and the world he lives in, leaving it up to us to gauge ourselves by it.

Stéphane La Rue. Colour as Illusion of Painting
Stéphane La Rue’s art resides, in part, in his allowing spectators to share in his creative process. He highlights the choices and decisions he makes at each stage of the work’s production. He takes into account the forms of the original material and its colour, which remains visible to the end. It is through another surface intervention of colour, highlighting the flat relief quality of the work, that it attains its status of painting—of the illusion of painting.

Blind Spots, Caesurae and Other Archival Lacunae
This text examines the recent works of contemporary artist Walid Raad and his archival documents produced under the auspices of The Atlas Group. Drawing on the aesthetic conventions of modernist painting Raad targets the historiographic complexities of the archive, especially when it is concerned with documenting the trauma of shame and oblivion—the unspeakable and unrepresentable atrocities of the Lebanese Civil War. Raad’s seductive and sensuously coloured aesthetics serve not only to add to the legitimization of his documents but to their capacity for critiquing how its very content is shaped by its representation. In many ways the content and historical context is informed by his aesthetics, which is largely influenced by modernist painting, predominantly the colour field, colour charts, and monochromes of the avant-garde and the neo-avant-garde.

Dark Thoughts: Jinny Yu Starts where Painting Ends
Jinny Yu’s exhibition Latest from New York at the Patrick Mikhail Gallery, Ottawa, reveals how her seemingly austere manipulation of black oils on aluminum is a meditation on space, architecture, installation, and painting. Her work begins where painting ends and her discreet orchestration of art historical references articulates a philosophy of painting.

Relics as New Monuments: Destroyed Painting
This article looks at some forms of destroying paintings that not only modify, but also mutate representation into a territory that dislocates meaning and becomes performative in the process. The destruction, or rather the dismantling, of already existing or painted layers as a form of systematic vandalism has been conducted often in recent practices as an investigation into the processes of creation and value attribution. The article will discuss artists like Steven Parrino, Alexis Harding, Carlos Bunga, Manuel Eiris, and the Japanese group, Gutai, situating their work as iconodulistic versus iconoclastic in a post-avant-garde discussion.

Performative Art Follows Painting’s Footsteps. The Case of Vanessa Beecroft
Performance art is influenced by painting in at least two ways. First, by using the medium of painting, and second, by taking painting and its history as its subject in a reinterpretation of the tableau vivant. These two influences are apparent in works from the beginnings of performance art right through to the present day, marking two periods in the history of the genre: the 1960s and 1970s, and the 1990s and 2000s. This essay considers these influences through the work of Vanessa Beecroft.

Derek Sullivan. More Young Americans
Derek Sullivan’s recent work capitalizes on a key aspect of abstraction: its elusive, shifting, and at times arbitrary, relationship to meaning. Borrowing from a wide array of bibliographic sources, Sullivan approaches the histories of modernist design, abstraction and conceptual art as a floating field of signs, paying particular attention to recurring patterns and forms, and weaves them into new relations of signification with a deft sleight of hand. The resulting images seem familiar, and evoke a curious sense of likeness, but ultimately they are impossible to pin down.

Body and Chaos in Christine Major’s Recent Work
After a visit to the artist’s studio, this article proposes a critical reading of Christine Major’s recent work. The text focuses on six paintings in her Crash Theory series. These paintings, the result of superposed source images, stage sexualized bodies and car crashes. The author establishes a connection between Freud’s notion of the Uncanny, at once disturbing and familiar, and the emotional ambiguity and formal strategies that surface in Crash Theory. Ultimately, this connection prompts reflection on the human being’s relationship with his or her body in the age of the machine and the reigning image.

The Animated World of Marina Roy
Marina Roy’s cast of unruly characters resists the politesse of artspeak or academia. They are drawn on the sides of books, hidden behind the layers of her paintings, and animated in her videos. Surreal and fantastical, playful and irreverent, they appear throughout her work, unsettling predictable narratives in favour of haptic connections informed by the unconscious, the extraordinary and the quotidian. There is a sense of intellectual restlessness in her subject field, which draws broadly from the study of language, psychoanalysis, nature, literature, art history, cartoons, and pornography, and is evident in her drawings, paintings and animations.

Ideals of Painting
Anthony Burnham
Dil Hildebrand
David Lafrance
Beth Stuart
Cynthia Girard
Marie-Claude Bouthillier
Sylvain Bouthillette

To Reject Playing the Other: The Mythical Work of Marigold Santos


Le Paradoxe Pinceau


Montréal | Galerie Circulaire, Judith Klugerman, Images de Crète by Lucile Pages

Montréal | Galerie Lilian Rogriguez, Matière sous influence / Mesmerizing Matter by Gabrielle Marcoux

New York | Museum of Modern Art, Cindy Sherman by Gabrielle Moser

Londres | Whitechapel Gallery, Gillian Wearing by Martine Rouleau

Paris | Centre culturel canadien, Manon De Pauw. Intrigues by Nathalie Desmet

Paris | Lieux divers, La Triennale, Intense Proximité by Vanessa Morriset

Toronto | Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Tasman Richardson, Necropolis by Caoimhe Morgan-Feir

Oakville | Oakville Galleries, Keren Cytter, Based on a True Story by Gabrielle Moser

Montréal | Usine C, Chante avec moi by Christian Saint-Pierre

Montréal | Société des arts technologiques [SAT], Dieu est un DJ by Jean-Claude Côté

Montréal | Espace Libre, Scrap by Christian Saint-Pierre

Québec | rues du quartier Saint-Roch, Où tu vas quand tu dors en marchant... 2 by Alain-Martin Richard

Publication | Loin des yeux près du corps : entre théorie et création by Dominique Allard

Publication | Mathieu Beauséjour, Icarus : la chute de l'empire by Dominique Allard

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