Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting is a wide ranging survey on the contemporary practice of painting. The international roster of artists was chosen from a list nominated by critics, curators and museum directors. The format is simple, after the preface and forward, the artists work is presented on two or four page spreads. An essay about each artist gives salient points about the work. Following that is a paragraph about where and when the artist was born, and a list of notable exhibitions. Lastly, the names of each displayed work are given in red.
The essays are printed in small type which takes up about a fifth of a two page spread, allowing the art to dominate the pages. While this concession to space considerations is understandable, for this reviewer, it limits reading the text to very good light.
The entries are arranged alphabetically. Turning the page from one artist’s style to another can be pleasantly jolting. Delicate figurative watercolors are followed by abstract process-oriented work which is followed by images borrowed from film… Sampling from the “G” section we see the work of an American artist. Tim Gardner’s paintings look like snapshots of a rowdy weekend. The artist uses photographs that his brothers have taken as source material. In the essay on Gardner’s work Dominic Moion writes, “His work plays off the documentary function of the family snapshot in an intriguing fashion, converting his brothers’ collection of personally meaningful moments into an entirely new and highly aestheticized experience.”
In another entry, we view the work of German-born Katharine Grosse. Concisely summing up her process, Eric de Chassey writes, “she covers things with color.” The work consists of painting surfaces in at least four different modes. “In the first mode she applies a series of quick vertical or horizontal brushstrokes of one color, usually in oil on a neutral ground.” In the second mode she layers two colors in crisscrossing fashion. These can be read as different planes. In the third mode, compositional choices emerge since there are now three areas of color competing for attention. In the fourth mode, which she added in 1998, she uses a spray can of acrylic paint. Using the spray paint has allowed her to cover large areas. De Chassey states Grosse has “never has lost her ability to incite both seduction and disgust, playing off sweet colors with harsh execution."
There are many other pleasures to be seen. This survey is a fascinating look at the depth and breadth of the contemporary painting scene.
For others in the Vitamin series:
Vitamin P2: new perspectives in painting
Vitamin D: new perspectives in drawing
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