As a part of our ongoing partnership with Art Practical, today we bring you Leigh Markopoulos‘s review of the recent Painting Expanded Symposium at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. The one-day symposium was held on April 13, 2013 and included presentations and panel discussions with ten internationally-known artists from around the United States.
On Saturday, April 13, 2013, ten artists representing a range of painterly approaches and hailing from Los Angeles, New York, and the Bay Area gathered in San Francisco to take the pulse of a practice that is denigrated as often as it is celebrated. Linda Geary and James Gobel (the chair and associate chair, respectively, of California College of the Arts’ painting program) organized the symposium, which was attended by a large, enthusiastic audience, and introduced it with the stated intention to address issues of practice and theory as well as matters of material, form, and context that seem urgent in contemporary painting. They addressed neither the specter of Rosalind Krauss invoked by the title of the day’s proceedings nor the legitimation of painting after the advent of conceptualism, paving the way instead for an exemplary range of perspectives linking painting to both life and art. The subsequent ten-minute presentations by each of the invited artists set the stage for two roundtable discussions in which shared concerns and interests quickly coalesced.
Any unease caused by the prospect of one hundred minutes of painterly presentation was instantly dispelled by the Los Angeles–based practitioner Tom LaDuke’s high-octane, confessional exposé of the “humiliation” of painterly practice. With deadpan drollery, LaDuke raced through a gamut of concerns, from abject life to brutish death, presenting images of paintings that veered from the photorealistic to the abstract and of extraordinarily painstaking, lifelike sculptures. He candidly voiced the angst of striving to sustain a hermetic studio-based existence, of imbuing painting with conceptual and metaphysical validity, of being stuck with oneself and one’s compulsive behaviors, and of constantly seeking the means to short-circuiting one’s predilections in pursuit of an innovative artistic practice that retains urgency for both practitioner and viewer. In situating the development of his art directly alongside his life experiences, and in expressing doubt and desperation, LaDuke placed painting firmly at the center of a sentient artistic practice. In a way, he said it all.