Issues in Contemporary Art: The Persistence of Painting

  • Thu, Oct 25, 1990
    (This event has already happened.)

    The persistence of painting in contemporary art makes it increasingly difficult to think of the medium as an artistically obsolete or socially irrelevant act. While this remark may seem absurd to both casual and serious observers of art, painting has suffered numerous “deaths” at the hands of artists, critics, and historians alike over the past 150 years, and yet, it still persists. Once again painting appears to engender communicative, expressive, sexual, and informative traits that no other medium or expression can replace or fulfill. Consequently, there is a renewed commitment to and faith in painting among contemporary artists and a renewed interest in it among their audience that can only be described in general terms as something human. Despite the advent of photography, the reductive reign of Modernism, the influence of popular culture, and the strain of media technology on art, painting persists. As a historically grounded object and an anthropologically expressive act, it continues to be beautiful and meaningful, relevant to human life, and emblematic of both personal and social knowledge and experience.

    Kathryn Hixson will present and discuss a wide array of younger, very contemporary, conceptually-oriented painters who have been able to combine historically immaterial ideas with the purely physical beauty and act of painting. Such artists as Gaylen Gerber, Julia Fish, Jonathan Lasker, and Kay Rosen generally paint on a smaller, less heroic and more intimate scale, and often incorporate subtle visual and verbal games and puns in their work. Ms. Hixson will talk about the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of this sometimes elusive, sometimes simple, but always challenging sort of works that often leave viewers either laughing or scratching their heads.

    Kathryn Hixson is a critic and the Chicago correspondent for Arts Magazine, New York, and for Flash Art, Milan. She is also a contributing editor for New Art Examiner magazine.