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  • Writer's pictureDavid Gibson

If you're reading this email, you're going to learn a lot more about a certain side of my life, the part that really matters to me. For years I've been leading a double or even triple existence, and it's been a hard path to tread. I've been trying to be all things to all people.

I've been a curator of exhibitions, and a dealer for art historical ephemera connected to the legacy of my father's art gallery from the Sixties through the Nineties. I've also tried my hand at career coaching, which has included studio based critiques, artist statement workshops, and gallery tours and introductions. Yet what I really care about is writing. I call it "contextual analysis" because it's not really my intent to tear anyone down or put them in a corner. What I want to do is help them to be seen and to be understood. I've been writing about art and for artists for most of my career. I feel that my insights into their work and their mindset have benefited from past career experiences. I see them on all levels. Here are a few examples:

Leah Oates has over time expressed a single concept, of the impermanence of her subject despite every effort to have it formally bestilled. Despite the popularity and abundance of means of creating digital images, Oates’ works are achieved via traditional analog means as creative interpretations and experimentation with the physical material of film itself. This allows her to maintain both a technical skill and creative authority that rest on their own laurels. (from The Transitory Instinct, July 2023)

The body issues that animate Joseba Eskubi’s work confront the historical concept of the Grotesque, which is posited as the opposite of Classical beauty. It takes its influence from darkness rather than illumination, from sexual passion rather than idealized bodies originating in Classical antiquity—which were in themselves a mode of hiding passions of men for men. Myth or history realized pictorially has often served to obscure the darker passions of humankind. The use of the grotesque is, in this regard, the more honest of the two options, as it presents the unadorned bent of a degraded nature without the trappings of epic tales in which to clothe it. A grotesque figure in and of itself has a specific type of truth to tell, and though it is not traditionally beautiful, it may deliver a potent example of both character and agency. (from The Resistant Reflection, April 2022)

Sokol Kramer creates psychologically loaded spaces in small works. The admixture of images sampled and drawn, the projective quality of the images, and a way of pushing them together to use negative space and create visual tension. They work best when depicting a single figure or the view of a single face, though singularity has nothing to do with the effect she achieves. It’s prismatic, creating tangent reflections, like the abstracted faces out of early Cubism. One has to gaze at the whole while allowing the parts to move the eye back and forth, rhythmically, until the manifested details emerge into an image, or an idea of one. There may never be a resulting image, but the impressions she makes are strong. Many of the parts she uses to build her scenes, figures, and faces are part of an emotional register that connects to beauty and body issues from her childhood and adolescence. We focus on these aspects of our appearance and they soon become signs or symbols of who we are. As we age, they change as well, but the memories of these events well up. They remain etched in our character. (from The Prismatic and Manic Collage Rhythms of Bernice Sokol Kramer, December 2021)

My writing is about other creative individuals, but it's also who I am. I am a writer who cares deeply about his subjects, and about the discipline of writing, for its potential to reveal important truths. Consider me as a source for "contextual analysis" as a service to your own creative practice, or for any artist whom you may represent or collect. View my writer's resume on my website and my recent and forthcoming writings on my email newsletter webpage, The Other Side of the Desk.


David Gibson

  • Writer's pictureDavid Gibson

Updated: Jun 6

Gibson Contemporary is proud to present “Gregory Malphurs: Facing The Future” (on view thru October 31, 2022) which presents this Los Angeles based painter and collagist’s contemplative exploration of new ways to perceive the subject of the human face, a traditional model for esthetic inspiration that needed to be altered in order to reflect a hybrid version of the world in which we live, which never actually conforms to the ideas that ideal creative models present.

collage, woman's face
BURNING IN WATER (2022), Oil and graphite on Arches oil paper 22 x 30 inches, unframed

Malphurs rejects the notion that an artist must reflect everyday reality. He uses the human presence, ecstatically and complexly perceived, to reflect the condition of humanity in a contemporary state. Malphurs wants to share with the viewer an experience of escapism into the rabbit hole of an inspired—and transformed—reality in which mirrors of complexity feel oddly familiar. Malphurs invites the viewer’s ambivalence. He believes that good art work should challenge us to embrace our insecurities rather than holding a torch up to illuminate ideal forms.

Malphurs’ evolution as an artist has been aided by contact with members of his artistic community working in diverse mediums. A couple of these individuals have shared a selection of procedural castoffs and mistakes that might serve as inspiration. Malphurs took the material variety of this gift a bit farther; physically sampling and intermingling these images they became a village of faces in hybridized form that he could then translate directly into painterly expression. Not having observed the forms in nature, and having taken advantage of the random interaction of both arranged combinations with fragments adhering one to another in unknown interior of the box, Malphurs found a wealth of affinity which has continued to bear creative fruit for two years.

man with big hair smiling
HOMER (2021) Oil and graphite on Arches oil paper 12 x 16 inches, framed

It’s in the nature of the creative process that a certain source can generate many alternatives. The creative brain is like any field, it can at times require a period of needing to be fallow, and to plant new seeds in other areas. The found materials and their combinations seeded Malphurs’ mind and allowed him to consider creative options beyond the pictures themselves. He began to vibe off their energy they gave him, and to generate new original forms. In some cases he would paint a figure and place a collage fragment right smack in the middle to reinterpret a section of the character’s appearance. Malphurs habitually seeks the new. A process of intimate interaction with materials, and a desire to create within certain limits despite a hunger to cross boundaries simultaneously, has resulted in exciting new pathways toward an oeuvre representative of evolved consciousness. Eventually fully collaged works also took shape as part of the evolution of a vernacular. As he played around with certain formal ideas, and experiments, landing in each case on a similar or different set of expressive particulars, what started as something brazenly new became transformed into something categorically established. It ceased to merely exist, and began to grow. This happens especially when a set of created works emphasize the limits of that initial state of newness. His next logical step, which by this time had almost become an instinct, was to jump forward into something radically new—something that can both speak backward to the first work, as well as forward into work not yet made; and likewise, to new eyes. We invite you to linger over the fantastically idiosyncratic visions of Gregory Malphurs. May they give you new eyes as well.

moody bare-chested man
SHADOW SUPERHERO (2022) Oil and graphite on canvas 48 x 72 inches

  • Writer's pictureDavid Gibson

The reception for "Marjorie Van Cura: Can't Look Away" was actively attended by many friends and colleagues on Wednesday, January 19, and is on view through February 11, 2022. Please come and see the show, a combination of two distinct bodies of work that engages and surprises especially when viewed in person. In the accompanying catalogue essay, Valentina Spalten says:

Marjorie Van Cura is driven by the ever-evolving realities of the present day. The culmination of thirty years of painting, Van Cura’s recent landscape-based abstractions are inspired by pivotal moments in contemporary history as represented by an inescapable ubiquity of mass media. Deeply impacted by environmental and sociological phenomena that continue to transform humanity, Van Cura pinpoints real life current events-based images that are striking in both conceptual paradox and aesthetic complexity, using them as a departure point for her densely-layered paintings. These works distill the familiar yet alarming urgency of the moment into a language that is graphic and expressionist, in order to create an entirely new and foreign space.

DFN Projects 16 East 79th Street - Garden Level Mon-Fri 11 am to 4 pm January 13-February 11, 2022

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