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Jim Denomie, Attack on New Ulm, oil on canvas 26 x 32” 2012
It is a wonderful thing that all events on canvas are manifestations of the individual and the particular. And it may be interesting as well to see if painting might engage with the thought that affords this wonderful thing in the first place. Abstract painting should put itself to the task of forcing a historical showdown with postmodern thought. We should seek from abstraction the space that was opened by postmodernism. We should ask if this new “abstraction” is not the postmodern painting that never happened.
Jim Denomie’s painting opens up some of this disturbing depth. Adorno said in a famous lecture, “The images of our life are guaranteed through history alone.” He was attacking the essentialism and transcendental woo-woo in German philosophy in 1931, and philosophy has not been the same since that attack. Adorno forced a confrontation of philosophy with its existential conceits; he rejected the idealist formulations of “reality” and “being” that were fashionable at the time.
This is not to say I like Denomie’s painting because it is “relevant” or “about something” or because it reminds me of the 19th century Indian art at the Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City. It is no documentary piety that draws me to the painting. But because the painting invokes history and horror, this is what courts a certain kind of aesthetic adventure. I don’t really care what history or what horror it is. The mordant cynicism of the Lakota chief riding in a convertible through some disturbing actual event … this hatches a space that is dialectical and not coupled to some immanent, breathless, present moment. We are in need of that dialectical space.
— from the catalog essay by Ethan Pettit
|Todd Bienvenu, Talking About Abstract Painting, oil on canvas, 2013|
Arlene Burke Morgan
Barbara Lea, Illicit Lunch, oil on canvas 16 x 16” 2011
|Sonam Rinzin, Yanchenma, brushed ink on paper, 29 x 32 in. 2014|
|David Rich, Call and Response and Charlie's Corner, oil on canvas, 2014|