Continuing through September 17, 2011
“It all seems predicated on the background,” reads a note in Manny Farber’s “Seduction/Mutilation” (1991), a large (180” long) oil on board. An apropos comment for an artist who divided the background into halves, thirds, quarters or fifths, then painted images of food, dishes, tools, toys, papers, books, and plants as if these objects were laid out on a table — or, in Farber’s case, often on the canvas itself as he created the work. Both “Seduction/Mutilation” and “Have a Chew on Me” (1983) are long rectangles divided vertically into five sections. But the difference in paint handling shows Farber’s transition to a looser style later in life, more akin to his early abstract pieces. The lines in the 1983 piece are clean, the painting surface is thin and smooth, and the objects — mostly rectangles — are executed in a tighter style than in the later piece. “Seduction/Mutilation” is more painterly. Thin pieces of rebar and the long handle of a hoe span two of the background sections, some of them intersecting in an “X,” creating a sense of movement across the surface. The paint is thick, with palette strokes visible. It looks as if one or two things were almost, but not quite, painted out. These characteristics draw the viewer into the process of creating the painting.
Published courtesy of ArtSceneCal ©2011