Posts Tagged ‘Rackstraw Downes’

 MW Capacity is pleased to present Tenses of Landscape, an invitational group exhibition of contemporary landscape paintings.

The contemporary artist’s world is a dense plurality of options, framed in a similarly wide variety of contexts for viewing and interpretation. The discipline of painting is certainly no exception to this, even when applied to a genre as commonly known and accepted as the landscape. Some landscape painters convey reality in compellingly quotidian detail, reflecting or critiquing the complex relationship between humans and nature; others construct neo-byzantine visions of the future that may thrill or terrify; some work intuitively to give form to the ephemeral, conveying what cannot be said; and many bend or break accepted rules of vision, reminding us that perception itself is both a privilege and a discipline. Tenses of Landscape, an exhibition comprising recent works by nineteen contemporary painters, presents both broad and dynamic depictions of landscape revealed as motif. Moreover, each artist examines the terrain dictated by these approaches and in turn addresses the act of painting itself. 

The exhibition is on view from October 1 – November 4, 2012, in the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center Gallery, in Fayetteville, AR. In the next five weeks, MW Capacity will post a series of artist interviews and other statements, as well as images of works featured in Tenses of Landscape. Two participating artists will deliver slide talks at the University of Arkansas in the next few weeks: Claire Sherman (October 11, reception in the gallery at 5:30, lecture at 7 pm) and Emily Gherard (October 25, reception in the gallery at 5:30, lecture at 7 pm). Read on for an introductory statement.

[At left: Claire Sherman, Cave and Trees, 2011, oil on canvas, 96×78″]


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Rackstraw Downes

A review in the NYT...

A 2004 conversation with David Cohen at Artcritical (love the first line of Cohen’s intro “With Rackstraw Downes, the clichés happen to be true: Time does stand still. His paintings capture a moment. You feel you’re literally there.”)…

In the Brooklyn Rail…

…because of this summer’s concurrent exhibits at Betty Cunningham Gallery, the Aldrich Museum and the Parrish Museum.

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UA Fort Smith (where I work this year) went on an excursion today to see a really excellent sampling of James T. Dyke’s collection, which is chiefly work on paper.  The show is at the Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock’s art museum.  I think we’ve discussed elsewhere on the blog, the AAC is worth putting on your map even if your not an Arkansan, because they specialize in drawings and other work on paper.  This opens doors rather than closes them, as many other non-megalopolis city museums just try to cover all the safest bases and wind up with a handful of lesser works by great artists.  Work on paper is something else.  It’s often an opportunity to look at process.

Here’s my quick and dirty run-down of the show.  By no means comprehensive, though, there are over 100 pieces in the show.  The work was presented kind of pedagogically.  All in pairs, paired most frequently by formal similarities, with some interesting results.  I’m not really commenting on the pairings too much here:

Frank Auerbach – NICE.  Portrait of his son, I think.

Joseph Raffael – it’s abstract; it’s representational; it’s fish. You may remember a similar one from the Color and Contemporary Painting text.

Jake Berthot – an oblique drawing, even for Berthot.

Magdalena Abakanowicz – two pretty damn tough drawings, one was paired w/ the Auerbach, which was also pretty damn tough.

James McGarrell – all in, as always.  Where the hell is (isn’t) the sun in this drawing?

Lyonel Feininger – was Edwin Dickinson a Feininger fan?

Joan Mitchell – Little poem-painting (typewriter text and paint or pastel or somethin’), I think the poem’s about having big emotions and being in Europe.

Lots of photorealism, too.  I was taken by one by one Richard Wyatt, of an older woman.  Warm and spooky at the same time.  Also, Susan Hauptman. Never seen one of hers before, a self-portrait, straightforward, very cool-eyed, sort of idealized yet particularized.

A two drawing pair: about an hour’s worth of Pearlstein, and ten minute’s worth of Hockney.  But then, I’ll take a ten-minute Hockney over a lot of other stuff.

Speaking of English, the Rackstraw Downes drawing is sweet, too.  No dabbling little affair there.  The painting is right next to it, too, in case you just want to look at one thing the whole time you’re there.

Also, a nice Jerome Witkin nude.

Lots of suggestive but not specific loose-hand abstractionist drawings, too, some along the lines of the ‘Remote Viewing’ group show that the Walker sent around a while back.

There’s a catalog, too, $20.


ALSO there is a Warhol show.  I had to pay to get into that one (because apparently Warhol wasn’t rich enough while he was alive, but whatever, the show’s in Little Rock, so I’m happy), and it was a really well-selected, convincing slice of his work.  Several pieces in there that would be cases-in-point that Warhol was a really good colorist (even if he was just okaying someone else’s choices on the way out of the Factory doors).  The portrait of Lenin, the flower paintings, a big wall of camo paintings and several others are what I’m thinking of here.

I had a realization in the floating silver balloon-pillow room, which I’ve seen before in Pittsburgh: that installation is like a Warhol decoder ring.  Reduce the gravity.  Keep it moving, but not too fast.  Make it out of reasonably cheap, available materials.  A lot of the same thing.  Reflects reality, sort of, not really.

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The Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock recently acquired a Rackstraw Downes drawing, which is on view until December.  Details here.

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