Looking at Contemporary Figurative Painting

Dana Schutz is an American artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She is best known for her humorous, gestural paintings that take on specific subjects or narrative situations as a point of departure. – Jarrett Earnest

Jaclyn Conley Sneeze Oil on canvas 48.3 x 48.3 cm (19 x 19 inches) 2001 http://www.macm.org/danaschutz/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/SCH-01_00011.jpg
Dana Schutz
Sneeze
Oil on canvas
48.3 x 48.3 cm (19 x 19 inches)
2001
http://www.macm.org/danaschutz/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/SCH-01_00011.jpg

Dana Schutz paintings:

  • Expressing states not visible in photographs
  • Where a surreal feeling, the absurd or extreme, is visible
  • Anxieties about the body, body in space and time

In the video she talks about humour, play, abstraction, and her relationships her subjects.

 

Dana Schutz Face Eater 2004 Oil on Canvas 58 x 46 cm https://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/artpages/schutz_Face_Eater.htm
Dana Schutz
Face Eater
2004
Oil on Canvas
58 x 46 cm
https://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/artpages/schutz_Face_Eater.htm

 

Dana Schutz Flasher Oil on canvas 190.5 x 223.5 cm (75 x 88 inches) 2012
Dana Schutz
Flasher
Oil on canvas
190.5 x 223.5 cm (75 x 88 inches)
2012

“The subject to me felt like it could look … almost like a face falling in on itself, in terms of making the portrait, and I think there are these questions of how do you make this face, or what should this face be like, and I wanted it to feel like a subject that was totally being pressed up against the space of the canvas, and also maybe a slight shake to the face, in a way that they were in a very vulnerable position. And I was thinking it could feel like a shark, or the underside of a shark, a stingray, the whole painting could feel like a stingray. So those are the kinds of associations that I could think of when I was starting this painting. There are tools on the inside of the jacket – tools, usually, that are involved in the studio, I think. Like scissors, for cutting canvas.” – Dana Schutz on “Flasher”

Dana Schutz Getting Dressed All at Once Oil on canvas 186.7 x 142.9 cm (73,5 x 56,25 inches) 2012
Dana Schutz
Getting Dressed All at Once
Oil on canvas
186.7 x 142.9 cm (73,5 x 56,25 inches)
2012

Marlene Dumas:

Born in 1953 in Cape Town, South Africa, Dumas moved to the Netherlands in 1976, where she came to prominence in the mid-1980s.

Her intense, psychologically charged works explore themes of sexuality, love, death and shame, often referencing art history, popular culture and current affairs

“Marlene Dumas is a South African artist who now lives in Amsterdam. She is one of Holland’s most prolific artists. She creates figurative works inspired by personal memories and a diverse array of printed matter including Polaroid photographs, newspaper and magazine cuttings, letters and Flemish paintings. Previously her subjects have spanned newborn babies, models, strippers and figures from popular culture, both alive and dead. Predominantly, she works in oil on canvas and ink on paper.” – http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/marlene-dumas-image-burden/introduction

Marlene Dumas Stern Oil paint on canvas 1101 x 1302 x 24 mm http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/dumas-stern-t12312 2004
Marlene Dumas
Stern
Oil paint on canvas
1101 x 1302 x 24 mm
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/dumas-stern-t12312
2004

See Dumas talk about her relationship with her source material in her work at the Fondation Beyeler.

Marlene Dumas Amy - Blue Oil on canvas 40 x 30 cm 2011
Marlene Dumas
Amy – Blue
Oil on canvas
40 x 30 cm
2011

“‘Secondhand images’, she has said, ‘can generate first-hand emotions.’ Dumas never paints directly from life, yet life in all its complexity is right there on the canvas. Her subjects are drawn from both public and personal references and include her daughter and herself, as well as recognizable faces such as Amy Winehouse, Naomi Campbell, Princess Diana, even Osama bin Laden. The results are often intimate and at times controversial, where politics become erotic and portraits become political. She plays with the imagination of her viewers, their preconceptions and fears.”

Marlene Dumas Momma Roma oil on canvas 2012
Marlene Dumas
Momma Roma
oil on canvas
2012
  • She explores how paint can do things to an image
  • real reverence for physicality in painting, the human touch, the hand – and it’s potency
  • psychological/emotional portraits – instead of realistic ones

In an age dominated by the digital image and mass media, Dumas cherishes the physicality of the human touch with work that is a testament to the meaning and potency of painting. http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/marlene-dumas-image-burden

Jaclyn Conley is a Canadian artist (Windsor born) living in New York.

Jaclyn Conley allows the viewer to get lost in these works that combine subjects such as prone figures (sleeping or recently deceased?), animals, and domestic elements that combine into an open-ended narrative.

Her paintings tell stories that draw on personal memories and references to art history, but the exact stories are left up to the individual viewer to interpret. She works quickly on these paintings, finishing and moving on to the next one within a few days or a week, to keep her creative and emotional interest fresh. She uses rich tones and colors, but often leaves a portion of the canvas white, incorporating its luminosity into the composition.

She says “My imagery is derived from a whole lot of different sources. A lot of my process is looking at different pictures: jpegs, photographs, all other people’s photos, things that aren’t my own. And pulling from them, culling from all kinds of imagery and bringing it together, in a way that invents a narrative, or changes the perceived story that I’m getting in the photograph. It’s taking from other people’s stuff, and serving it up with some of my own stuff, making a new narrative, scenario or event. It’s not fixed; it’s not a specific story I’m trying to tell, but creating an illusion and letting the viewer interpret things in their own way.”

From http://nonnativenewyork.com/JaclynConley.html

 

Departing for Georgia 2017 30×30″

 

FLOTUS Hug Mexico City 2015 oil on panel 60×60″

 

Christmas Pageant 2018 oil on panel 60×60″

 

FLOTUS Hug New Delhi 2015 oil on panel 30×30″

Jaclyn Conley’s current series is based on images sourced from the Presidential Library Archives. Here, Conley has focused on the faces of children in crowds. She crops these from photographs of large crowds at political gatherings. – Phillip Kennedy

  • Movement in painting
  • Unifinshed parts in paintings, bringing dynamism and light
  • Slippery narratives – open to interpretation
  • Ambiguity in images
Jaclyn Conley Overhead oil on panel 6x6" 2013 http://www.jaclynconley.com/current_painting/pages/Overheard.htm
Jaclyn Conley
Overhead
oil on panel
6×6″
2013
http://www.jaclynconley.com/current_painting/pages/Overheard.htm

 

Jaclyn Conley Obama Christmas oil on panel 8x8" 2014 http://www.jaclynconley.com/current_painting/pages/Obama_Christmas.htm
Jaclyn Conley
Obama Christmas
oil on panel
8×8″
2014
http://www.jaclynconley.com/current_painting/pages/Obama_Christmas.htm

Kaye Donachie is a Scottish artist. Her work Epiphany is based on found images of rebellious and revolutionary groups. Donachie uses this source material to investigate group dynamics and power structures. She is fascinated by the codes of cults, communes and other non-conformist and youthful groups. She has collated a range of material that documents collectives, from the Manson family and Friedrichshof Commune to Kommune 1 and the sanatorium at Monte Veritá in Switzerland. – Angie MacDonald, Tate

The Epiphany oil on linen 36 x 46 cm 2002
Kaye Donachie
The Epiphany
oil on linen
36 x 46 cm
2002
 
Every mornin’ our love is reborn oil on canvas 62.5 x 90 cm 2004
Kaye Donachie
Every mornin’ our love is reborn
oil on canvas
62.5 x 90 cm
2004

Donachie often uses lyrics from songs as titles.

  • Moody use of colour and light
  • Spooky, spiritual, cultish scenarios
  • Glowing figures, magical
  • Ambiguity and soft identity
  • You feel dazed and bleary – like you are on drugs or sleepy – when you look at them
  • Tension between utopia and dystopia in scenarios
Kaye Donachie This is What We are oil on canvas 2007 http://www.cellprojects.org/content/kaye-donachie
Kaye Donachie
This is What We are
oil on canvas
2007
http://www.cellprojects.org/content/kaye-donachie

Michaël Borremans is a Belgian artist. His drawings, paintings, and films present an evocative combination of solemn-looking characters, unusual close-ups, and unsettling still lifes. There is a theatrical dimension to his works, which are highly staged and ambiguous, just as his complex and open-ended scenes lend themselves to conflicting moods—at once nostalgic, darkly comical, disturbing, and grotesque. – David Zwirner

Michaël Borremans Four Fairies oil on canvas 110 x 150 x 3 cm (43 x 59 x 1 in) http://start.zeno-x.com/zeno_x_gallery/exhibitions/exhibitions/2004_MB/2004_MB_works/slides/MB2003_13.html 2003
Michaël Borremans
Four Fairies
oil on canvas
110 x 150 x 3 cm (43 x 59 x 1 in)
2003 http://start.zeno-x.com/zeno_x_gallery/exhibitions/exhibitions/2004_MB/2004_MB_works/slides/MB2003_13.html

-Works that draw attention to themselves as paintings, unfinished, flat

 

beard_01
Michaël Borremans, Eating the Beard Oil on canvas 2010 http://www.wkv-stuttgart.de/presse/2011/pressebilder/borremans/

 

michael-borremans-peinture-portrait-belgium-realisme-velazquez-824-806x1024
Michaël Borremans, Mombakkes I, Oil on canvas 56,5 x 44,5 cm 2007 http://www.zeno-x.com/artist/MB/michael_borremans.html

Works that are theatrical, exaggerating psychological features

The Load
The Load, 2008, Oil on canvas  15 3/4 x 19 5/8 inches (40 x 49.8 cm)

Gerhard Richter was interested in the dialectic between objectivity and subjectivity that painting from photographs engenders. “When I paint from a photograph, conscious thinking is eliminated,” Richter mused in his personal writings of 1964-5. “The photograph is the most perfect picture. It does not change; it is absolute, and therefore autonomous, unconditional, devoid of style. Both in its way of informing, and in what it informs of, it is my source.” –Gerhard-richter.com

 

Gerhard Richter Betty Oil on Canvas 102 cm x 72 cm 1988
Gerhard Richter
Betty
Oil on Canvas
102 cm x 72 cm
1988

Nearly all of Richter’s work demonstrates both illusionistic space that seems natural and the physical activity and material of painting—as mutual interferences. For Richter, reality is the combination of new attempts to understand—to represent; in his case, to paint—the world surrounding us. He says “I blur things to make everything equally important and equally unimportant. I blur things so that they do not look artistic or craftsmanlike but technological, smooth and perfect. I blur things to make all the parts a closer fit. Perhaps I also blur out the excess of unimportant information.”[19]

Many of these paintings are made in a multi-step process of representations. He starts with a photograph, which he has found or taken himself, and projects it onto his canvas, where he traces it for exact form. Taking his color palette from the photograph, he paints to replicate the look of the original picture. His hallmark “blur” is achieved sometimes with a light touch of a soft brush, sometimes a hard smear by an aggressive pull with a squeegee. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerhard_Richter

 

   2699

Sailors, oil on canvas, 1966 150 cm x 200 cm Catalogue Raisonné: 126

This painting depicts seven men in sailor’s uniforms, facing the viewer. Five of the men are shown standing while two further men are kneeling in front of them. Executed in a monochrome palette, its blurred contours give the painting the appearance of an out-of-focus photograph in which the motif seems to elude the viewer. About this at-the-time characteristic blurring in his paintings Richter asserts: “I blur things to make everything equally important and equally unimportant.” From https://www.gerhard-richter.com/en/exhibitions/gerhard-richter-40-years-of-painting-36/

9130

Frau, die Treppe herabgehend
Woman Descending the Staircase 1965 198 cm x 128 cm Catalogue Raisonné: 92 Oil on canvas

_

Luc Tuymans’ works are quiet, restrained, and at times unsettling, his works engage equally with questions of history and its representation as with quotidian subject matter cast in unfamiliar and eerie light. Painted from pre-existing imagery, they often appear slightly out-of-focus and sparsely colored, like third-degree abstractions from reality.-David Zwirner

Luc Tuymans Lumumba 2000 oil on canvas 62 x 46 cm (24.5 x 18 in)
Luc Tuymans
Lumumba
2000
oil on canvas
62 x 46 cm (24.5 x 18 in) http://www.davidzwirner.com/artists/luc-tuymans/survey/image/page/53/

Patrice Émery Lumumba  was a Congolese independence leader and the first democratically elected prime minister of Congo. Lumumba played an important role for his country to be granted independence from Belgium, as a founder and leader of the mainstream Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) party

Shortly after Congolese independence in 1960, a mutiny broke out in the army, marking the beginning of the Congo Crisis. Lumumba appealed to the United States and the United Nations for assistance to suppress the Belgian-supported Katangan secessionists. Both parties refused, so Lumumba turned to the Soviet Union for support. This led to growing differences with President Joseph Kasa-Vubu and chief-of-staff Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, as well as the foreign opposition of the United States and Belgium. Lumumba was subsequently imprisoned by state authorities under Mobutu and executed by a firing squad under the command of Katangan authorities. Following his death, he was widely seen as a martyr for the wider Pan-African movement. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrice_Lumumba)

 

Luc Tuymans, Der diagnostische Blick V (The Diagnostic View V), 1992; oil on canvas; 58.1 x 41.9 cm http://arttattler.com/archiveluctuymans.html
Luc Tuymans, Der diagnostische Blick V (The Diagnostic View V), 1992; oil on canvas; 58.1 x 41.9 cm
http://arttattler.com/archiveluctuymans.html

In the video Tuymans talks about his family history, our relationships to photogrpahy, the media, and our fallible memories.

Elizabeth Peyton:

Peyton treats the subjects of her portraits with a distinctive intimacy, whether they are friends, historical icons, or famous musicians. Her ever-expanding repertoire of recurring subjects includes Kurt Cobain, Andy Warhol, Napoleon Bonaparte, Queen Elizabeth II, Piotr Uklanski, and David Hockney, among many others. She paints from both life and from varied source material like found photographs, film stills, famous paintings, or mass media images. Her portraits, lovingly created with gestural brushstrokes of diluted oil paint, investigate how art and mass media affect the viewer’s emotional and intellectual response to the person depicted.- https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/elizabeth-peyton

Elizabeth Peyton, Never Say Never (Justin) oil on wood veneered aluminum 29.2 x 22.9 cm / 11.5 x 9 in 2013 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/18/justin-bieber-painting-elizabeth-peyton-at-art-basel_n_3454489.html
Elizabeth Peyton, Never Say Never (Justin)
oil on wood veneered aluminum
29.2 x 22.9 cm / 11.5 x 9 in
2013
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/18/justin-bieber-painting-elizabeth-peyton-at-art-basel_n_3454489.html
EP 1252 0000
Elizabeth Peyton David Bowie Oil on aluminum veneered panel 14 x 11 1/4 inches (35.6 x 28.6 cm) 2012 http://www.gladstonegallery.com/artist/elizabeth-peyton/work#&panel1-1
Elizabeth Peyton Kurt Oil on board 10 x 8 in 1995
Elizabeth Peyton
Kurt
Oil on board
10 x 8 in
1995

___

Njideka Akunyili Crosby(Nigerian American artist) creates vibrant paintings that weave together personal and cultural narratives drawn from her experience. She uses an array of materials and techniques in each of her autobiographical works. Collage and photo-transfer provide texture and complexity to the surface of each composition in which photographs from family albums mingle with images from popular Nigerian lifestyle magazines. This varied and inventive use of media serves as a visual metaphor for the intersection of cultures as well as the artist’s own hybrid identity.

-http://newsdesk.si.edu/releases/njideka-akunyili-crosby-2014-winner-smithsonian-american-art-museum-s-james-dicke-contempor

Njideka Akunyili Crosby (b. 1983), Before Now After (Mama, Mummy and Mamma), 2015. http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/NjidekaAkunyiliCrosby
Njideka Akunyili Crosby (b. 1983), Before Now After (Mama, Mummy and Mamma), 2015.
http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/NjidekaAkunyiliCrosby

 

“The Beautyful Ones” Series #2 2013 Acrylic, color pencils, pastels and transfers on paper 5.1 ft. × 3.5 ft. http://njidekaakunyili.com/work/the-beautyful-ones-series-1-2
“The Beautyful Ones” Series #2
2013
Acrylic, color pencils, pastels and transfers on paper
5.1 ft. × 3.5 ft.
http://njidekaakunyili.com/work/the-beautyful-ones-series-1-2

“My art addresses my internal tension between my deep love for Nigeria, my country of birth, and my strong appreciation for Western culture, which has profoundly influenced both my life and my art. I use my art as a way to negotiate my seemingly contradictory loyalties to both my cherished Nigerian culture that is currently eroding and to my white American husband. Most of the Nigerian traditions I experienced growing up are quickly disappearing due to the permeation of Western culture and the ensuing opinion that being ”too Nigerian” is uncool. I feel dismayed by Nigerians’ unquestioningly valuing anything Western as superior however, my awareness of this problem does not exempt me from it – indeed, I question whether this mentality played a part in my falling in love with my husband. My art serves as a vehicle through which I explore my conflicted allegiance to two separate cultures.” Njideka Akunyili https://chikaoduahblog.com/2012/10/19/njideka-akunyili-a-nigerian-visual-artist/

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Nwantinti, 2012, acrylic, charcoal, colored pencil, collage and transfers on paper. http://newsdesk.si.edu/photos/njideka-akunyili-crosby-nwantinti
Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Nwantinti, 2012, acrylic, charcoal, colored pencil, collage and transfers on paper.
http://newsdesk.si.edu/photos/njideka-akunyili-crosby-nwantinti

 

The Bridge 2010 Charcoal, ink, acrylic, xerox transfers, lace and paper collage on paper 5 ft. × 7 ft. http://njidekaakunyili.com/work/the-bridge
The Bridge
2010
Charcoal, ink, acrylic, xerox transfers, lace and paper collage on paper
5 ft. × 7 ft.
http://njidekaakunyili.com/work/the-bridge

Janet Werner’s work as a painter focuses on the fictional portrait as a vehicle to explore notions of subjectivity and desire. Her paintings operate within and against the genre of conventional portraiture, taking found images of anonymous figures in popular culture and imbuing them with fictional personalities. The process of painting is a way of investigating the iconic power of the image, invoking imagination, memory, and projection to invest the nameless figure with human subjectivity and emotion. The final paintings are composite portraits that retain aspects of the original while also embodying notions of transformation, innocence and loss. – http://www.parisianlaundry.com/en/artists/janetwerner/bio/

Janet Werner Lucy, 2011, oil on canvas, 223.5 x 167.6cm https://canadianart.ca/online/2012/05/15/ohcanada7.jpg
Janet Werner
Lucy, 2011, oil on canvas, 223.5 x 167.6cm
https://canadianart.ca/online/2012/05/15/ohcanada7.jpg

 

Janet Werner Becky, 2010, oil on canvas, 31 x 24'' http://www.parisianlaundry.com/fr/artistes/janetwerner/becky
Janet Werner
Becky, 2010, oil on canvas, 31 x 24”
http://www.parisianlaundry.com/fr/artistes/janetwerner/becky

Video showing works installed in the exhibition Another Perfect Day (2013).

4 Eyes, 2013 Oil on canvas 40.6 x 50.8 cm http://www.featureartfair.com/exhibitors/birch-contemporary/
4 Eyes, 2013
Oil on canvas
40.6 x 50.8 cm
http://www.featureartfair.com/exhibitors/birch-contemporary/

 

Folding Woman, 2009, oil on canvas, 168 x 135 cm
Folding Woman, 2009, oil on canvas, 168 x 135 cm

 

 

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