Ben Street posts his catalogue essay on contemporary painting for the exhibition 32 Paintings at Phoenix Brighton, curated by painters Patrick O'Donnell and Nicholas Pace (through March 24, 2013).
Street begins: " 'Painting is dead' is dead, and now we can move on and discuss what it is, exactly, that keeps painting alive, despite everything. Despite (in vague chronological order) the Reformation, the printing press, photography, cinema, advertising, conceptual art, performance art, installation art, video, television, the Internet, and the countless other ways the act of applying matter to a flat surface has been battered since its invention in those dark days in dark caves. Painting continues and will continue to continue, even though its central place in western culture has long since been relinquished to other, more immediate media, a lack of immediacy being something paintings uniquely possess, as opposed to everything else. If paintings made today can be said to have any shared characteristics, it might be this undercurrent of incredulous continuance, an amazement, rarely voiced, that it’s not only still possible to make paintings, it might be something we need. It can’t go on. It goes on."
The full online catalogue is available here.