Work by: Beverly Rautenberg, Gwen Hardie, Ingela Skytte, Josh Mitchell, Osamu Kobayashi, and Stacy Fisher
(in alphabetical order by first name)
Some artists have a way of conjuring up a sense of relevance in their work even when it does not overtly depict the social and political narratives of their era. I’m in awe of how the reductive sensibilities of Beverly Rautenberg, Gwen Hardie, Ingela Skytte, Josh Mitchell, Osamu Kobayashi, and Stacy Fisher are able to quietly nudge open doors to their temperaments and reveal points of view that suggest something universal in part because they are so intensely personal. Through their work we are at once invited into the intimate world of these discerning artists’ pared down aesthetics; at the same time their sincerity and vulnerability form a perch from which we can look out and catch a flickering glimpse of something true.
The artists in this summer's group post initially caught my eye and have sustained my interest in part because their work engages with the precarious concept of beauty- celebrating it in novel and unique ways, teasing out new sensibilities, or undermining it unsparingly. But it also celebrates our complexity as people and is often tied to how we think about and navigate our way through life. The decisions made to bring this work into being suggest an optimistic framework for conceptualizing a better future. These are paintings and assemblages that reject the absurd cruelty that surrounds us without conspicuously referencing it. Instead, they quietly advocate for a world that could be through the joy of a color, the frankness of a texture and the subtlety of a shape. They are reminders that we all have interests, hopes and needs that exist outside of the perpetually and unsustainably urgent 24 hour news cycle. In the hands of these sensitive painters private, poetic and very human concerns feel -for lack of a better term- timeless.
I want to thank each of the artists for their contributions. In addition to sending me recent work, they were also asked to respond to the question "How do form and content mingle and share space in your work?" Their thoughtful responses are included below.
(Chicago, IL, USA)
Father / Daughter, 2018 , enamel and rubber, mounted on wood.
I am an Interdisciplinary Conceptual Artist. My practice is focused mainly on making
Objects. My Work is very small and intimate and invites a ‘close look’ by the viewer. It
combines the reductive formalism of a minimalist aesthetic (influenced by the work of
Donald Judd), with autobiographical subject matter.
My Work is more about how ‘material, surface and color’ (rather than ‘form’) mingle with
content. ‘Form’ is usually a ‘constant’ – My Work is almost always square or an extension
of the square (i.e., a rectangle). I have had a passion for the square form for more than
ten years-- and it will not go away! Material, surface and color are used as signifiers to
communicate a personal narrative. Wood is the main material I use for most of my Work.
It is my ‘canvas’. I then add other materials such as enamel, aluminum, rubber and
various hardware. Even though I reference personal experience throughout my process,
it is important to me to have the viewer bring their own subjectivity to my Work, rather
than accepting mine as the only interpretation.
[ Moving ] FOREWARD, 2021, enamel on archival board, mounted on wood
Solo Exhibition at 57W57ARTS, NYC, 2018
Photo: Riley Palmer
PAGES [ 1, 2 & 3…], 2022 , enamel on archival board, mounted on wood
-My Father’s Tools
My Father was an excellent woodworker. As a child, I used to watch him work and hand him his tools. I saved his old tools (he never knew this) and use them every day, as I make my Work. In this way, I feel like he is always with me and a part of each Work I make.
An Unexplained Paradox: Studio of a Minimalist
Over the years, I have tried, many, many times, to organize my Studio. I always thought it would make me more efficient as I worked, but I finally realized that I was wrong. This is how I am meant to work and I gave up trying to analyze why.
(Born in Scotland, currently living and working in Brooklyn, NY, USA)
07.06.21, pale cool pink on raw umber, 2021, oil on canvas, 20" x 20"
I love how color and tone can transform flatness into an illusion of three dimensional space in painting. This alchemical process corresponds in my work to the action of bringing the painting to life.
Each painting presents a color-field which appears to oscillate between presence and atmosphere, gently expanding and contracting like the act of breathing – mirroring the viewer as they look into the painting. To achieve this effect, I build up a unified film of oil paint by blending one dominant foreground color over one background color.
The gradients between the two grounds are manipulated and blended until the radiance of the foreground asserts itself and appears to glow in a subtle way that resists stasis and appears to be alive.
- Gwen Hardie
05.02.22, venetian red and naples yellow on indian red, 2022, oil on canvas, 16" x 16"
04.13.22, darkest orange on warm blue-green, 2022, oil on canvas, 36" x 36"
02.18.22, radiant venetian red on raw umber, 2022, oil on canvas, 16" x 16"
Above and below: Hardie's studio in Brooklyn, NY.
Sharing Fields Black, Rumfang (volume), Copenhagen, 2019
Photo: Torben Petersen
I’m working with limitations and systems which control my work and give it direction. It means that I have rules for what I can and can not do. It gives me a freedom in the limitation and helps me to define the task. I consistently and methodically try out every possibility and position and make mathematical calculations to obtain the final composition. The single work itself does not concern me as much as the total system it’s a part of. What interests me is what happens with my work as an ensemble. I continue with a volume as long as I have something to investigate, sometimes a project can go on for years. Thus for around a decade now I have been working with themes titled: “Sharing Fields”, “Primary System”, and “In Addition."
In the series “Sharing Fields Black” I have been working with black to accentuate the edge of the painting. I paint both the surface and the edge white, and then I continue only with black, which I bevel against the edge of the painting, whereby various degrees of asymmetry occur and the paintings appear crooked against the white wall. The black paint is applied layer upon layer with broad strokes by free hand, controlled only by a thin line drawing. The square is a benchmark form from which I choose my fibre board formats. It can be single, double or triple squares.
The installation of my work is of great importance to me. In several of my exhibitions I have been working with colored walls, both with my black and white work as well as in exhibitions with my colored paintings. As a consequence of my occupation with the mutual relationship between my paintings, the hanging of them often suggests an installation. In the case of the series “Sharing Fields Black” I colored a wall red. Here the white wedge shapes accentuate the edge of the painting.
I repeat different compositions with small displacements. Elements such as scale, symmetry and asymmetry are constantly shifting. Small differences become big differences.
SHARING FIELDS, Cross, Black on Black 37", 2021, acrylic on MDF, 40cm x 40cm
SHARING FIELDS, Cross, Black on Black, 36", 2021, acrylic on MDF, 25cm x 75cm
Intervaller (Intervals), Konstepidemin, Gothenborg, 2020.
Photo: Lina Ikse
SHARING FIELDS, Cross, Black on Black, 39", 2021, acrylic on MDF, 40cm x 80cm
SHARING FELDS, Cross, Black on Black, 38", 2021, acrylic on MDF, 58cm x 29cm
Ingela Skytte in her studio (Copenhagen, Denmark)
(Santa Cruz, CA, USA)
blue walker, acrylic/canvas, 9 x 12”
I’ve been fascinated by ambiguity for as long as I can remember. In daily life I sweep this fascination under the rug in order to function socially. However, when I enter my bedroom studio I delightfully swim in The Ambiguous. Painting is a zone where I play with meaning and muddle dichotomies such as:
figure / ground
picture / presence
black-white / rainbow
kitch / classy
improv / plan
this / that
and so on.
And so yeah, I take cheap, conventional, easily accessible materials and work with them over a spare bedroom’s dirty desk with the goal of getting beyond -or at least getting even with- my language soaked, binary brain.
screen play, acrylic/canvas, 9" x 12”
side step, acrylic/canvas, 9" x 12”
green room, acrylic/canvas, 12" x 9”
The "...spare bedroom’s dirty desk."
(New York, USA)
Snake II, 2021, oil on canvas, 46" x 52"
My forms have no fixed meaning. They start as spontaneous and intuitive drawings. The shapes are then tweaked and refined until they capture a freedom in idea and movement that are my own. I find logic in their points and curves and interactions. Tension and release is a common theme as well as the known and unknown. The right balance unearthing deeper truths. Specific subjects may be alluded to. However, life is found in ambiguity.
Hills, 2021, oil on canvas, 16" x 24"
R, 2021, oil on Canvas, 12" x 10"
Sea Breeze, 2022, oil on canvas, 122" x 134"
Photo by Alberto Petrò
Above: Osamu Kobayashi in his studio.
Photos by Alberto Petrò
Below: The studio.
(Brooklyn, NY, USA)
Untitled, 2021, oil on wood, 11.5 x 8 x 1.5 inches
I have used wood in my work for many years in functional and non-functional ways, and in tandem with sculpture or works on the wall. This current series is the first time I’ve used it to build supports for oil painting and where the components are combined into one. Merging the parts made color and pattern more accessible and allowed me to incorporate a kind of fantasy space, one with random brushstrokes and marks made by chance. The supports each have a raised section that can be interpreted differently depending on how they’re painted- as an additional boundary or border, an appendage, interruption, or continuation, as a piece within a piece, etc. I'm interested in this suggestion of narrative and the process of plotting what goes where.
- Stacy Fisher
Untitled, 2022, oil on wood, 13.5" x 12.25" x 1.75"
Untitled, 2021, oil on wood, 9.5" x 7" x 2"
Untitled, 2021, oil on wood, 9.5 x 7 x 2 inches (side view)
Above and below: Fisher's studio