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Brett Baker


Painters' Table Top 10 Best Posts, June 2011

Posted: 07/16/11 04:06 AM ET

From an exhibition of new landscape and portrait paintings by Leon Kossoff, who works for years on each canvas, to an exhibition of "Unfinished Paintings" at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) - the depth and breath of contemporary painting were evident in June.

In Unfinished Paintings, "Works-in-progress [are] offered as a point of entry into each painter's respective creative world." Painter/blogger Sharon Butler, in her recent essay "The New Causalists," addressed a related topic - noting "a studied, passive-aggressive incompleteness to much of the most interesting abstract work that painters are making today... They are looking for unexpected outcomes rather than handsome results."

The continuing tradition of American abstraction was also celebrated at OK Harris Gallery with the 75th Anniversary exhibition of the American Abstract Artists. Painter Steven Alexander writes that the show offers "a broad range of approaches to abstraction" and goes on to say that "One can sense the 75 year tradition, a seasoning and a blooming -- a way of seeing, thinking, living that in many ways is no less radical now than in 1936."

If the art world has spawned a "Generation Blank," painting has quietly begotten an energized, vigorous, inter-generational, and international dialogue that is thriving without the spotlight.

Writing recently about Leon Kossoff's new paintings, Franklin Einspruch notes "The artist gives us no reason to interpret [a] tree as anything but itself. But there it is, ancient, half-toppled, held up by human interventions, and yet growing upwards and outwards in fine weather..." Kossoff's painting and Einspruch's words feel like an appropriate mediation on painting itself - an ancient, human art that continues to grow and flourish.

Late Spring: Leon Kossoff
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Leon Kossoff, Cherry Tree, with Diesel, 2004-05, Oil on board, 36-1/4 x 44-1/2 inches (source: -courtesy of Mitchell-Innes & Nash

Franklin Einspruch reviews the exhibition Leon Kossoff at Mitchell-Innes & Nash on view through June 18, 2011. Einspruch writes that Kossoff "[continues] to work in portraiture and landscape, with a brush loaded with oils as if they were tar, favoring a palette based on a sooty, British gray... [but]... one can see a brightening... a verdancy unmixed with ashes as would have been his wont fifty years ago."

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