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Towards Meaning in a Plural Painting World

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Patrick Neal reports on the recent panel discussion “… towards meaning in a plural painting world,” moderated by Katy Siegel at Hunter College. The panel including Raphael Rubinstein, Merlin James, Dana Schutz, Richard Shiff, and moderator Siegel, set out to: "examine the condition of painting in its contemporary context… [to] discuss whether the current plurality in painting dilutes meaning, or if it is just a case of many people doing many interesting things. How do we advance meaning given the plethora of dispersed, diverse, yet all seemingly functional approaches? Is the basic idea of advancement even a useful paradigm anymore? These issues will be explored with the aim of presenting a more critical dialogue about work made with paint."

Neal notes that "A consensus emerged that painting’s intrinsic qualities, as an infinitely plastic medium, are what give it strength. Shiff mentioned how close painting is to thinking, a very immediate process that is hand and body oriented but can also assimilate other technologies. Because its mechanics are so simple, painting allows for tremendous inventive freedom, and may for that reason be spawning so many of the hybrid offerings we have today. He mentioned R.H. Quaytman as an example of a painter maintaining an ongoing historical dialogue while broaching new ground as well. Likewise, James mentioned the artist Soutine, whose work could be perceived as political, but those passions are subsumed into the warp and weft of his paint handling."

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