Art Photos Diana

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Interview with Paul Benke, from Painters’ Table

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One to savor from Painters’ Table

Interview with Paul Benke, “The Ability of Paint,”

Eight Painters, organized by Paul Behnke is on view at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, New York from January 4, 2014 – February 1, 2014. The show features paintings by Karen BaumeisterPaul BehnkeKarl Bielik,James EriksonMatthew Neil GehringDale McNeilBrooke Moyse, and Julie Torres.

Paul Behnke’s curatorial criteria for the show Eight Painters are compellingly straightforward: “an individual, rigorous vision; a certain ambition without regard for scale or a specific way of making a painting; and an abiding belief in the ability of paint – and specifically, the genre of abstraction – to best communicate the artist’s appetite and inventiveness.”

In other words, the show features painters deeply engaged with the medium of paint. It’s a powerfully simple premise. Eschwing trends and labels, the tools of the art market, Behnke puts the focus where it should be – on the paintings themselves. He generously agreed to discuss the show with Painters’ Table. – Brett Baker

Painters’ Table (PT): Your decision not to organize the show around a visual “theme” is uncommon these days – even somewhat radical. Can you expand a bit on how you came to believe that the commitment of each artist to the internal language of their work was the most worthy organizing principle?

Paul Benke (PB): I think as a painter I’ve always felt this.

Recently, the predominant way that paintings have been presented and viewed has been in the context of a curatorial theme. The more in depth statement of the one person exhibit is being pushed aside in favor of a “hook” that I think art spaces feel they need to draw in viewers. These curatorial themes start to seem necessary to make painting feel relevant. To submit a body of work to almost any art space’s open call you must have a “project”, a hook, and it’s even better if your idea involves some sort of play on Relational Esthetics or is community based. All of these approaches have their place but this type of exhibition has become prevalent at the expense of a deeper, more encompassing experience of the painter’s work.

Good painting is as varied and multi-layered as the person who made it. Thoughts, memories, visual associations – the sum of a painter’s daily life – personality and experiences feed into a work. And that’s just the conceptual content. To say nothing of the subtleties or boldness of a paintings formal qualities and the staggering number of decisions that go into realizing a piece. To reduce all of that to a fragment of its intent runs the risk of doing the medium and painter a disservice, especially if the viewer is easily swayed or lazy.

I did what I could to negate this approach in Eight Painters. I intentionally kept the number of exhibiting artists under ten and asked for one piece or a concise grouping of work from each. I wanted something closer in feel to a museum display rather than an over-hung, chaotic presentation. Within those parameters I felt I had the best chance of giving the work, the painter and the viewer the kind of experience they deserved.

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February 2, 2014 at 8:10 pm

website design is under pressure to adapt to user preferences

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September 6, 2013 at 5:21 am

Website design: insert Pinterest board

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September 2, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Review: Richard Diebenkorn: The Berkeley Years, from Huffington Post

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August 10, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Artist Interview

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This interview addressed issues that have been resting under my skin for many years. Not only do I respond to John Zurier’s work, but I also appreciate the relationship of his work to Japanese culture and aesthetics. I have been on a mission to create my own authentic work, whatever that is and even though I can’t see it or know it ahead of time.

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August 10, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Never Miss an Issue: StudioCritical

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I particularly liked these paragraphs, from, “STUDIO CRITICAL —
A behind the scenes approach to contemporary painting”

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

Color is the instigator. Glimpses of things I see trigger the physical sensation of wanting to paint, which is in turn very much tied to my love of gesture, and long ago, of figure drawing. My desire is to create form out of color. I no longer keep reference material posted in my studio, but prefer to open my book collection randomly in order to jump start or remind myself of that sensation. With this current smaller work, I have two or three canvases ready at the same time, and they are laid flat because I work in layers, wet on wet, with the paint on the liquid side. It is a very suspenseful process. If I lose either the structure or a sense of interior light, the whole thing gets scraped down. What I am after is a point where I have somehow managed to create a gestural grid that works as a structural space, and where things almost dissolve into chaos, but don’t.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thanks for having me here. Your blog has been so informative and helpful. The more I see and read about what other artists do, the more I think that what painters want most is to surprise themselves. In this there is a not-so-simple element of play, and something specifically about making things by hand that provides a very basic pleasure. It’s great when that pleasure gets communicated well, as I so often see here.

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July 4, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Four Questions to Artist Statement

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Writing an artist statement? First ask yourself these four questions

Academia is only one part of the art world, says Daniel Blight. To reach wider audiences, let’s find an alternative to artspeak.  From The Guardian.

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June 4, 2013 at 3:39 pm