Friday, February 24, 2012

Wins and Losses

Wow, Matthew Eickhoff scores big with these new paintings at Indie Indy Artist Colony. His cover story is that he's replicating these key moments in Super Bowl history, and yes, he does that. These paintings will rightly be appreciated on that level, but there's so much more to these.

The painting execution is shockingly similar to the very moments depicted. The paint handling has a frenzied casualness to it, where years of training and experience come together in one revisionless moment. His process seems to be one of pure momentous inspiration; of moving forward without question or doubt.

These works are carefully planned, with dynamic compositions and interesting, rather high contrast color schemes. From a distance they read as very solid, almost conventional, depictions. But Matthew also takes these works on a rather courageous and raucous paint ride, and this becomes apparent when one views them close-up. The entire dimensional illusion breaks apart into abstract areas of varying surface treatments. It is all very dynamic, chaotic, and visually stimulating. Out of this melee one starts noticing areas and figures which are startingly distorted. These are not calculated, intentional distortions, nor do they occur from ineptitude. They are something else. They are truthful distortions; they honor an intense moment in paint. These distortions reveal the soaring ego-less innovations that process painting can sometimes yield, on a good day, after years of practice, if you're lucky, and have been a very good lad.


This is why painting is so exciting. It is capable of so much. The flip side is that the best that painting has to offer, is usually not readily comprehensible. I don't fully understand these moments, even in my own work.. I love that there is always more there, than I will ever fully understand.


The amazing potential of painting also makes it very difficult to critique. Recently the Nuvo reviewers gave this show, and another painting show, devasting reviews. Many commentors championed this new audacious approach to reviews. The thing is, in each case it was a show where the artist “scored manna”, in painting terms. Some of these works had truly exceptional moments, and showed intriguing developmental leaps forward for these artists. This was a moment for celebration, for both the artist and the viewer. Often there are not a lot of tangible rewards for being an Indianapolis artist. The goodie bag for explorative painters is particularly sucky here. We kind of live for great moments in paint, because it's all we really get. I am disturbed at how a misinformed review may tarnish these rare artistic highlights. I'd rather indulge 10 unmerited favorable reviews, than risk one unmerited bad one. It's simply too devastating when we artists so often get no other real rewards.


To be very clear: I'm not saying go easy on us painters. I'm not saying everyone is an ignorant doofus who can't possibly get it. I'm saying it's often very difficult for someone with a generalist knowledge of art to get the more profound stuff in painting, on those rare occasions when it happens. It's difficult for us who are deeply engrossed in it to understand it.

If you are going to harshly bash someone's work, please make sure your assessment is informed.

That is all....

Oh yeah, one more day to see Matthew's show. Saturday hours are 12-5, I'd call first.


Mary Addison Hackett said...

well-said, all of it.

Nomi Lubin said...

Hi. Very interested in all this. But I think I'm not finding part of the bad review? The link goes to a short review that seems complete, but in the comments there is criticism of the critic talking about the artist's prices and I don't find that in the review. Am I missing part of it?

Carla said...

You are indeed missing the part of it that was edited out later. I don't have a copy of the original review.

Nomi Lubin said...

Ah, plot thickens. Maybe?

I feel like these are paintings I'd really have to see in life to have a responsible opinion on, more so even than usual, that is. However, I suspect your reading of the work is...oh, I really want to say "correct," but I suppose I should be saying more sensitive, or something. I sense that the reviewer misread them badly. Feels very much like a case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing, the knowledge here being less a collection of facts than huge amounts of exposure to painting. I can see from the photos why they might be easy for some to misread. Though I suspect that in life there is even less of an excuse.

Carla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carla said...

When I first saw them online, I was like huh?? All I noticed were what looked like badly drawn figures. This is where knowing an artist is beneficial. You know to question your own take on it, rather than immediately judge it.

When it comes to critiquing artists' work, I think it's natural to believe that an objective perspective is best; that to do otherwise is giving an unfair break to artists whose work you already champion.

Nuvo absolutely must approach everything as objectively as possible, but with art, and painting in particular, familiarity sometimes breeds insight. It's a conundrum because it's inappropriate for friends to champion friends' work, or it could easily become inappropriate, and yet we're dealing with something that does require a certain level of engagement to be understood.

Anonymous said...

Very well said. Thank you very much for this entry. I read the reviews of both shows you cited, and they were insulting.
This is a tough town for painters it seems. I'm finding it to be true myself. Knowing the right people and being able to assign the right narrative to whatever work you create seems to be of paramount importance.

Nomi Lubin said...

Yes, very well said.