I thought it would be intriguing to ask painters this simple yet complex question. This query comes with no ground rules—it’s up to each individual artist to find their own approach and direction.
This project will be an ongoing exploration … let’s see where it takes us.
What is Painting?
Featuring Kristin Calabrese
For decades we have been thinking about the ontology of painting. Usually when I see something concerning the “ontology of painting,” it refers to a physical description of the elements that are necessary for something to be considered a painting. Recently, these elements seem to be canvas (or linen) and some stretcher bars (either functional or parts of). Often there is no paint. I don’t really want to argue for or against this.
Instead I want to think of a more ordinary understanding of painting, although a pile of fabric draped on some pieces of wood could actually be included in the thing that is what I want to talk about.
This concerns what it is that gives painting it’s power when the painting is made by one artist alone (usually excluding art made by a slew of assistants at the instruction of an artist).
A painting is both first and foremost a conversation between an individual artist and the painting – (or a conversation between an artist and his/herself, translated through the painting). Most artists forget about the viewer and become absorbed in the conversation at hand on the surface of the painting, because the audience is not in the room while the painting is being made.
The studio that contains the painter become a physical manifestation of the brain of the painter, and the painter becomes the impulse and the observer. The canvas collects and synthesizes the images and ideas for the artist.
People who see the painting are being given the opportunity peer into the mind of another individual human.
Kristin Calabrese, Seen and Unseen, oil on canvas, 36″ x 96 1/8″, 2013
Born in San Francisco in 1968, Kristin Calabrese is a Los Angeles-based painter who received her MFA from UCLA in 1998. Her paintings are imbued with multiple layers of meaning. Charged with psychological implications, the canvases eerily resonate on a subconscious level. Though in many cases Calabrese’s imagery seems at first benign, there is a troubling sense of apprehension that permeates her sense of play. Calabrese has exhibited with Gagosian, Leo Koenig, Saatchi Gallery, LA-ART, and Susanne Vielmetter, amongst others – and is represented by Brennan & Griffin in New York. Her work has been included in exhibitions at the Seattle Art Museum, WA, The Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA, and the San Francisco Art Institute, CA. and is included in such prestigious collections as the Neuberger Berman, Saatchi, and the Armand Hammer Museum. Calabrese currently teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her solo exhibition with Brennan & Griffin, “Message to the World,” will open in January 2018.
The What Is Painting? Project – More Featured Artists