Without cynicism, these painters stage studio experiences in which one sees acts of painterly lovemaking accumulate over time. By tenderly examining the surfaces of their works, one can reconstruct the painterly decisions, additions, revisions, and erasures that lead to the finished image and thereby reconstruct the narrative by which the artists fall in love with their own work. The painterly pleasure they seek is like the fugitive lover whose loss has to be perpetually risked in order to keep their passion level high, and we, the audience, can experience that pleasure vicariously.
In each and every piece in the show failure has been risked and sometimes encountered. Several of the artists spoke of moments of desperation in the studio when the works felt unsalvageable and almost ended up in the dumpster. In each case the next studio decision allowed the artists to become re-enraptured and let these experiments take on a public life forever in the artists’ official output. Every artwork is the result of a series of decisions, but this mode of painting lets the process of one decision after another remain visible, and for those of us that love artist processes and cherish even the illusion of being with them in their studios, such paintings are like watching a romance, where the outcome remains uncertain until the very last moments.
Painting: A Love Story includes fifteen artists from New York, Boston, Houston, and El Paso: Richard Aldrich, David Aylsworth, Andrew Brischler, Joseph Cohen, Matt Connors, Keltie Ferris, Geoff Hippenstiel, Eva Lundsager, Jason Middlebrook, Sam Reveles,Cordy Ryman, Amy Sillman, Shane Tolbert, Scott Treleaven, and Charline von Heyl.
ABOUT OUTSIDE THE LINES
Painting: A Love Story is one in a six-part series of exhibitions organized under Outside the Lines. Presented on the occasion of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston's 65th anniversary, Outside the Lines is conceived as an evolving dialogue on contemporary abstraction. The first three exhibitions—UIA (Unlikely Iterations of the Abstract), Outside the Lines, and Black in the Abstract, Part 1: Epistrophy—opened October 31, 2013. The final three presentations—Rites of Spring, Painting: A Love Story, and Black in the Abstract, Part 2: Hard Edges/Soft Curves—open in January over three weekends.
From recent paintings embracing more traditional definitions of abstraction to multimedia works that challenge such notions, Outside the Lines showcases the Museum's commitment to chronicling shifts in contemporary art practices by presenting some of the most compelling work being made today and revisiting the historical foundations to which they speak. CAMH's director Bill Arning and full curatorial staff—Valerie Cassel Oliver and Dean Daderko—each organized two exhibitions; these six complete visions are mounted in two rounds. Outside the Lines is installed in both the Brown Foundation and the Zilkha galleries, uniting the whole museum in one thematic exhibition for the first time. Constructed as a dynamic, diverse, and innovative curatorial project, Outside the Lines offers a variety of vibrant visual experiences and perspectives on abstraction in the present moment.
Hearkening back to the popular CAMH exhibition Abstract Painting, Once Removed (organized by Dana Friis-Hansen, 1998) and the curatorial experimentation in Changing Perspectives (1995), Outside the Lines opened October 31 with three presentations: UIA (Unlikely Iterations of the Abstract) organized by Arning, Black in the Abstract, Part 1: Epistrophy organized by Cassel Oliver, and Outside the Lines organized by Daderko. Staggered openings in January 2014 for the remaining three exhibitions in the series—Rites of Spring by Daderko, Painting: A Love Story by Arning, and Black in the Abstract, Part 2: Hard Edges/Soft Curves by Cassel Oliver—invite audiences to re-visit the evolving exhibition and consider abstract painting from multiple vantage points. Though installed in dedicated spaces, these exhibitions converse with each other. The full complement of shows will be contextualized within a single catalogue to be published in 2014.