Past Exhibition

Fat Painting

Oct. 12, 2002 – Dec. 1, 2002
Opening Reception: Fri., Oct. 11, 2002, 7-10 pm

During the last 150 years, painting has been regarded as the most time-honored of the visual arts and the center of debate as to whether it is alive or dead. The first predictions of the end of painting came with the invention of photography, and the incorporation of the mechanical into the artists’ process, such as Marcel Duchamp’s found-objects. Painting’s response to industrial capitalism, in which the hand was banished from the process of production, was to demonstrate the medium’s exceptional nature and craft. Thus began the birth of Abstract Expressionism. With its energetic, gestural painters using large canvases and large paintbrushes, sometimes abandoning the paintbrush completely, dripping or throwing the paint directly on the canvas. The expressive method of painting became as important as the art itself. Not all of the work in this movement was abstract (Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston) or expressive (Barnett Newmann and Mark Rothko). What gives the movement cohesion is the spontaneity of the artists’ approach to painting that would draw and release the creativity of their unconscious minds.

The difficulty with abstraction is how to approach it as a spectator. Realistic paintings involve depth of space and narrative for the viewer. Impressionism can justify its short brush strokes using the illusion of reality and solving the problem of depth with landscape horizons. Cubism, bringing painting one step closer to abstraction, exaggerates the Impressionist’s hacking brush stroke to dismantle and flatten the subject, allowing different sides of an object to be viewed; yet the Cubist art still depicts real subjects. Abstract painting, stripped bare of narratives, horizon lines, and defined subjects, must build its foundation on problems of the paint and the canvas, the design and the surface. Abstraction must be accepted for what it is; it is a painting, it is about itself.

Fat Painting features four Miami-based artists who summon the influences of their predecessors, particularly mid-twentieth century American painters to create their work. Mary Bianchi, John Bailly, Chris Mangiarcina, and Rosaria Pugliese demonstrate the philosophy of painting found today, reinventing themselves, free from the confines of any traditional category. Ultimately, the works in this exhibition represents the connection between the emotional and the physical, through the pure aesthetic pleasure of powerful, energetic execution of paint on a surface. The viewer is encouraged to respond to the works’ private and collective representations and discover unique meanings.

The notion of an apocalyptic end of painting seems to have run its course, so once again, painting is rising from the so-called grave. Associate Curator of the Walker Art Center, Douglas Fogle, insists that “Painting has never really gone away, but like a virus exposed to an antibiotic, it has mutated, imprinting its genetic code on an entire new generation of descendants.”

- Samantha Salzinger, Curator of Exhibitions