New American Paintings/Blog


William Powhida Paints in Earnest by New American Paintings

At first glance, William Powhida’s new show Bill By Bill at Charlie James Gallery looks like a fairly typical survey of contemporary art.  Just about all of today’s most common approaches to object-driven art making are represented.  There’s a post-minimalist sculpture, some neo-modernist wall pieces, a hard-edged abstraction, three large digitally printed color field paintings, a neo-expressionist painting, a taxidermied animal, and a neon sign.

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Installation view of Bill By Bill.  Photo courtesy of Charlie James Gallery

At second glance, the show looks like one big joke about the contemporary art world.  Powhida farmed out the making of these ‘artworks’ to assistants, mimicking popular contemporary tropes.  He then created some of his signature text-based pieces to accompany each of the works, satirically describing the labor (or lack there of) and intellectual rigor (or lack there of) that went into their creation. - Trevor Spaulding, Los Angeles Contributor

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Long Plays: Okay Mountain at Mark Moore Gallery by New American Paintings

I’ll start with a joke: How many artists does it take to satirize contemporary culture, democratize the collaborative process, vandalize notions of the banal while able to emphasize the importance of drawing within the practice of making?…..9. I learned that one while talking to Okay Mountain co-founder, artist, curator and overall swell guy Nathan Green. Currently, Mark Moore Gallery in Los Angeles presents Long Plays (on view through March 16th), the first solo exhibition of works by the Austin-based artist collective. With their razor sharp dry wit, Okay Mountain offers less of an attitude and more of a gentle sucker punch; more like getting a beating with a bag of oranges as opposed to a bag of bricks. The former won’t break bones but you’ll still know whose boss. Green and I had a little chat about the show and the OKMT collective mentality. - Arthur Peña, Dallas Contributor

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Installation shot of Long Plays

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Ken Gonzales-Day at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles by New American Paintings
December 17, 2012, 8:25 am
Filed under: Los Angeles, Review | Tags: , , ,

Ken Gonzales-Day’s recent show, “Profiled | Hang Trees | Portraits,” at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is deeply rich and intellectually challenging.  A well-established artist and researcher, Gonzales-Day challenges his viewers and the way in which we as a country remember.

1. Ken Gonzales-Day Run Up Luis De Jesus
Ken Gonzales-Day | Run Up, 2004-12, LightJet print on aluminum, 60 x 75 in. Courtesy of the artist and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.

The gallery is comprised of two rooms that are joined by a small hallway, yet the space still feels intimate.  The nature of the work plays on this feeling and as a viewer, you do not just bear witness to the histories that Gonzales-Day recalls, you feel complicit in them as well. - Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

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David O’Brien’s “My Pet Doppelganger” by New American Paintings

Digital replicas of flying and furtive portraits of friends moving through time and space populate David O’Brien’s solo photography show My Pet Doppelganger at the Richard Heller Gallery.


David O’Brien | Hey Let’s Get Together and Figure this Thing Out (DETAIL), 2012, 48 x 66 inches. Photo Courtesy Ellen C. Caldwell

From afar, many of O’Brien’s photographs look like solar systems – the swirling nature of the spirographed patterns of people look distinctly like stars of the Milky Way.  Staring at the paintings for even a few moments, one might recall sitting in a planetarium or staring up at a desert sky. - Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

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The Art and Artifice of Geodes: In the Studio with Elyse Graham by New American Paintings

At once lifelike and ethereal, organic and otherworldly, Elyse Graham’s geodes are captivating and mysterious.  Simply put, they tell a story.  But that story is not at all simplistic in style, process, or production.

After seeing Elyse Graham’s geodes in the group show Futero Anteriore at the Carmichael Gallery, I wanted to learn more about them.  The geodes at the show were presented in clustered groups with both halves of each geode paired together, boldly bearing their raw and vivid interiors.  Behind them, black and white video images of CT scans of the geodes morphed and danced on the back wall, illuminating neon linings and pockets of light both in the sculptural and projected forms of the geodes. - Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor


Elyse Graham | Installation view.

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Gavin Bunner’s Gardens (and Hillsides) of Earthly Delights by New American Paintings
March 14, 2012, 8:15 am
Filed under: Interview | Tags: , ,

Satirical. Sexual? Sensical and non… Gavin Bunner’s (NAP #65 & #97) paintings are flat out funny, farcical, and intelligent.  Growing out of his earlier experimentation with watercolors and humorous juxtapositions, Bunner began creating larger compositions in which he inundates the viewer and field with likely and unlikely pairings from pop-culture and the larger media oversoul: Google. - Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor


Gavin Bunner | Easter Egg Hunt, 44.5in x 30in, 2009

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We Have a Pulse by New American Paintings

Pulse Contemporary Art Fair ran this past weekend in the heart of downtown LA—at LA Live.  Or at least we’re told LA Live is the “heart of the vibrant and burgeoning downtown Los Angeles community.”  As a native Angeleno, I certainly wouldn’t label LA Live the heart of downtown, nor would I label downtown Los Angeles a “burgeoning community” – because quite frankly, downtown LA has been a thriving and distinctive community for some time. - Ellen Caldwell, LA Contributor (more thoughts on the show and images after the jump!)


Heidi Tullmann and Ben Wolf at Christina Ray

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Fabrications with Jen Pack (NAP #73) by New American Paintings
September 7, 2011, 9:30 am
Filed under: In the Studio, Los Angeles | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Jen Pack (NAP #73) deconstructs, reconstructs, sews, and stretches fabric onto frames and into large masses in a way that creates something at once familiar and yet also new.  Her works resonate with viewers and remind them of a variety of other arts and images, creating a kind of cyclical “trialogue” – a dialogue between artist, art, viewer, and back.

From her nuanced and detailed stretched chiffon pieces to her large installation work with kite-like nylon, Pack’s work is both moving and provoking, aesthetically and mentally. – Ellen Caldwell, LA Contributor


Scrap 1, chiffon/thread/wood, 31.25″ x 19″ x 3.5″  2010

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Must-See Paintings Show: September by New American Paintings

The art world comes alive again in September, as galleries reopen and collectors return from far flung locations. We reviewed upcoming September exhibitions at more than 400 galleries around the country, and there will be a lot of painting on view.

As is typical, many galleries are bringing out the big guns for the new season – from Agnes Martin at The Pace Gallery in New York to a well structured survey of Bay Area figurative painter, Nathan Oliveira, at John Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco. Among the shows opening by emerging artists, it is hard to ignore the trend towards abstract painting that has swept over the art world.


Kimberly Brooks | Punk History, oil on linen, 40 x 36 inches. Courtesy of Taylor De Cordoba, Los Angeles.

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Hirsute Pursuits: Aaron Smith at Sloan Fine Art by openstudiospress

Aaron Smith, Chopsy, 2011 | Oil on panel, 28 x 24 inches. Courtesy Sloan Fine Art, New York.

Upon examining his work, one can only imagine that Los Angeles-based painter Aaron Smith is somewhat of a romantic. His thick, impastoed brushstrokes in oil, when combined with his nostalgic 19th-century era figures, deeply recall the gesture-heavy application of the Post-Impressionists imbued with a freshness (and palette) that is altogether contemporary.

A connoisseur of whiskers in his own right (he rocks a mean curly mustache), Smith fills his canvases with images of men belonging to another time. However, his approach to representation—which is simultaneously direct and abstracted—takes these characters from the past and fervently pulls them into the present, primarily through his use of color. Using a palette that could be culled from the Fauvists, Smith’s otherwise brooding men are brightly colored, flipping ideas of masculinity on their pastel heads.

More beards, and pics from his solo show at Sloan Fine Art, after the jump!  —Evan J. Garza, Editor-at-Large

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