Every new technology of artists, curators, and critics appears to really feel the necessity to defend portray. It is sensible: paint on canvas, good for little else, is mainly synonymous with big-A Art. Painting stands for artwork’s angels and demons, its optimism and a focus, its vanity and solipsism.
“The Painter’s New Tools” at Nahmad Contemporary in Manhattan showcases simply how far up to date artists have pushed new media with out leaving the security of what’s legible as artwork. Gathering 57 works by 31 creators, its curators Eleanor Cayre and Dean Kissick assert that new applied sciences have irrevocably redefined what it means to color, whereas sustaining that portray stays outlined by the pursuit of gorgeous issues. Trying to carry each concepts without delay, the present embodies the cryptic, ambivalent embrace of custom, from cottagecore farmlife to Catholicism, practiced by a subset of largely younger, very-online culturati. Painting is at stake — and so is a conservative want for the previous avant-garde.
It’s true that portray is expertise, and all the time has been. Just because the invention of oil paint, slower drying than tempera, gave artists a revolutionary vary of latest results, the lens and the transistor — images, video, and pc graphics — introduced profound, irreversible adjustments to how artists, and the remainder of us, see the world.
The hovering brush strokes and vertiginous layering of an emerald Laura Owens canvas apotheosize Photoshop methods. Ei Arakawa’s homage to Owens hangs close by: a picture of considered one of her work displayed on a low-res tapestry of LEDs. In a cutting-edge anatomical examine by the video artist Kate Cooper, the digicam skitters by means of a digital mannequin of a human physique, slice by slice, like Leonardo enjoying with an MRI machine.
Cayre and Kissick make a radical survey of portray’s ongoing id disaster, whether or not or not the artists themselves really feel like they’re portray. The present is conceptually certain on one facet by artists departing from standard portray into digital territory, and on the opposite by artists making animations and unpainted objects, shoehorned into portray’s firm as a result of they go on the wall.
Representing these attempting new instruments is the painter Julien Nguyen, who has a popularity for making use of Renaissance strategies to up to date idioms. His digital portrait of a winsome youth smoking within the tub ditches brush and palette for an iPad. The strokes Nguyen laid down on the display screen seem on a monitor, put in entrance and heart, as a flurry of oily, paint-like marks.
For the latter, there’s Jordan Wolfson’s pixelated print of Dorothy and her companions in Oz. The outdoorsy, eaved body is aggressively styled with hearts, crosses and a Star of David pendant in addition to devotional blurbs like “Surrender to God.” The phrases “GOD IS GOD IS GOD IS GOD IS …” crawl across the border. Despite using no paint, the untitled piece combines a number of of the medium’s standard themes: Christian hagiography; homage to predecessors (specifically Ashley Bickerton, a number one assemblage artist of the ’80’s); and sufficient logorrheic confidence to make an summary expressionist blush.
Kissick is a New York critic whose common column in Spike Art Magazine skips like a stone between the classical and the ultramodern — from, say, considering a Fragonard to musing on NFTs (non-fungible tokens), all with out ever leaving the Frick Madison. Cayre is an unbiased artwork adviser specializing within the Fifties to as we speak. Both have a stake within the up to date — what it means to stay now, not then.
Newness isn’t all the time progress. “Imago” (2022) by Ezra Miller — an artist, artwork director and net developer — is a washy abstraction evolving in actual time on a grid of 4 screens that appears like driving right into a wet Monet with the wipers off. A distracting black cross runs by means of the middle of the picture the place the screens meet. Up shut, what emerges isn’t brush strokes however the black gaffer’s tape masking the seams. Give me a dusty Rothko over a new-media experiment whose bodily presence appears slapped collectively and reluctant.
Speaking of Rothko: “Disc Buddie #4448,” an NFT by Tojiba CPU Corp, manifests on a sq. display screen: a tough, digital cartoon of a thick floppy disk with white fingers and doves for footwear, the phrases “Rothko Maker 2” on its face. NFT tasks like this one, which generate 1000’s of distinctive photos by combining units of traits, push the concept artwork must be simple and repeatable. Let the previous guard whine about dangerous style. This is “the new painting” in that even ugly work might be good investments.
Beauty continues to be doable, in fact — the exhibition contains heady, wall-winning abstractions by Seth Price, who wrings painterly gestures from industrial processes; Wade Guyton, who paints by abusing inkjet printers; or delicate, moiréd surfaces by Jacqueline Humphries or Anicka Yi. These are among the many smartest updates of portray’s tendency to speak to itself and ignore the broader world. The tone right here is devotional, not iconoclastic.
The odd urgency of the age condenses in a 2022 image by Jessica Wilson, “Perfectly Clear” — an almost photorealistic 3-D rendering of a hand drawing a squeegee down a sudsy windowpane. It’s a flat UV print on Dibond and one of many least painterly objects within the present. Yet its tart composition, our view from the surface, the scintillating tactility of the blade scraping away the cleaning soap, remind us that the medium doesn’t matter. What issues is artwork’s fundamental urge to exceed the chore of dwelling.
The Painter’s New Tools
Through Sept. 24. Nahmad Contemporary, 980 Madison Ave., Manhattan, nahmadcontemporary.com.