TMH’s anniversary show reflects on painting by taking its cue from the oeuvre of the American conceptual artist Dennis Oppenheim (1938-2011). Referencing his drawings on the pervasive power of painting, it goes on to examine the boundaries and extensions of this fundamental art medium in the works of Hilarius Hofstede, Craigie Horsfield, Judit Reigl, and Carolee Schneemann, artists previously shown at TMH.
Dennis Oppenheim: Reflection on Cézanne
Matter of Masters presents Oppenheim’s color-saturated works on paper, with such singular titles as: Lungs with Brushes, 1991, and Roots in Cubism—Hearts in the Stars/(Forest for Cézanne), 1984. These distinct drawings complement his famously transgressive sculptural interventions, while taking issue with the strictly non-painterly position of the conceptual practice. They can be seen as prophetically imagining the future (our present) as a return of nonunified artistic visions, indebted to Cézanne and cubism.
The Artists: What Is a Painting Now?
TMH’s program lineup has previously linked the painter of gestural genius Judit Reigl (1923, FR born Hungary) with the iconoclastic performance artist Carolee Schneemann (1939, US), who, like Oppenheim, roots her work in Cézanne (albeit from a feminine perspective, as in her book Cézanne, She was a Great Painter ). Matter of Masters includes Schneemann’s Infinity Kisses photo series with her cats, but in its 2005 filmic montage that layers Cézanne-like surface tension. Next to Schneemann, Reigl’s 1970s Drap/décodage (Drape/Decoding), reverse imprints of her Homme/Man series of the same period, underscore the innovations of both artists. Schneemann constructs her “painting that moves” from still photography, and Reigl takes a risk and abandons brush strokes in favor of an all-in-one transfer that blends printmaking, sculpture, and painting.
Purposefully nonspecific about medium in his renderings of portraits, objects, and scenes, Craigie Horsfield (1949, UK) creates poetic materiality with black and white or color inks on paper, wood, fresco support, or as tapestries. Originating in the camera or in camera-less negatives, his unique liminal prints unsettle our notions of photography and advance the possibilities of futuristic nongestural painting. Hilarius Hofstede (1965, NL) returns to Matter of Masters with his particular hands-off medium: LP cover assemblage. Like his 1990s Ocean in shades of biospheric blue, Reach the Beach, 2017, embraces a unifying color spectrum, in this case light-reflective browns (en brunaille). The mural thus washes in references to 12th-century stained glass, 17th-century painting techniques, and 20th-century pop art to bring us to the question of the 21st century’s slipping sands of physical and perceptual security.
TMH’s Masterworks Series
TMH first mapped out contemporary ruptures in materiality and painterly mediums in 2015 through a sequential display of the Art & Project Bulletins 1-156, 1968-1989 covering two decades of the conceptual line of thinking. Matter of Masters continues to examine the experiences that a forward view of painting can accord. The unparalleled creative visionaries in the show take us beyond canvas and brushes to the phenomenal space-time of our joint present.
The Masterworks Series and the exhibition are curated by Marsha Plotnitsky, TMH’s Founding Artistic Director.